Part 2: What makes a great Product Owner?

In Part 2 of our series on "What makes a great Product Owner?", agile42 coach Lothar Fischmann, looks at why having a Product Vision is so important for a Product Owner and what we can learn from “Shark Tank”.

You can watch the full video interview below:

Why is having a Product Vision so important for a Product Owner?

One of the first questions we ask Product Owner’s when it comes to any kind of coaching conversation is: “what is your product basically about”? And hopefully, the Product Owner is able to give us a short insight into the main characteristics of his product and be able to tell us where the journey should go. If he is able to tell it to us, he should also be able to tell it to stakeholders, users, or clients. The basic idea behind the Product Vision is that the Product Owner should be able to make an elevator pitch for instance to his company’s CEO/CIO of the idea behind this new product.

Are there any good examples of Product Visions?

There are a couple of good examples of Product Visions that are very well known. For example, JFK’s “Man on the Moon” speech or Martin Luther King who stated, “I Have a Dream”  and, of course, Steve Jobs’ vision of the iPod. So what we are seeing is that a Product Vision can also be used for organisational or social development as Martin Luther King did. A vision and a clear understanding of the product is helpful and guides people on the journey. 

We use the idea of a Product Vision also when we talk about an agile transition. For example, where there is a sponsor at the top who has an idea of how the agile organisation could look like, what the benefit of agility is and why it is important to start working in an agile way. Other good examples of Product Visions can be found within shows such as “Shark Tank”. The principle behind “Shark Tank” is quite simple. There are people who have an innovative product idea and they would like to get some capital from venture capitalists. So they pitch their product and try to convince the “Sharks” to invest in their product.

What can we learn from “Shark Tank”?

The people on “Shark Tank” are extremely motivated in selling their product to the “Sharks”. In their presentation, they will focus on the most important aspects of their product and why people would buy it. Some of them also hand the product to the “Sharks” so they can touch, smell or possibly taste it, which can be quite important for some products. 

It’s not only the presenter's work we can learn from. You could also learn something from the “Sharks”. For example, what kind of questions are these people asking? Typical questions include:

  • have you already sold some of the items or is it still an idea?”
  • have you been able to collect customer feedback?
  • what did they say and how have you been able to incorporate that?
  • what is the market looking like? Are there any kind of competitors?
  • Why should we use this approach over other competitors? (i.e. a “make or buy decision”).

You will find Product Owners who have given a thought to all these questions, who prepared themselves in front of a mirror or with friends, who thought how to present their product in a succinct way that will be well perceived by stakeholders, users, or the “Sharks”. This helps people to understand the product and to develop it. Therefore, working on a Product Vision is always a good first step on your journey.


Watch the recording of Lothar's webinar on "What makes a great Product Owner?".

*Click here to read Part 1 blog post* 


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