Friday, October 4, 2013

Is The Product Owner Role Hiding a Bigger Issue

Is the Product Owner/On Site Customer role in Scrum and XP potentially hiding a bigger inventory problem? My thought on this started with a blog post from @duarte_vasco. (please stop and read this to gain context) It also fits with several experiences I have had. But first let me show an example that actually makes the problem visible.

At a company I was working with they could not agree on a single product owner type role. This caused them to create a product owner team for each scrum team. These product owner teams had people from the business, IT and user experience groups from the organization. Of course for many with a Scrum or XP background this clearly brings to the forefront the likelihood of several issues cropping up, multiple priorities given to the team, slowness in agreement on direction, stories that are really small requirements documents, etc. Not surprisingly, that is the case. However, that problem is very visible! The visibility has lead to discussions on how to improve that. I am not completely confident they will create a solution that is significantly better on their first attempt to fix the issue but as long as they keep making it visible they have a chance to.

Other teams I have worked with had this same process happening in the background. The product owner role hid the issue though. Months of work were happening in the background trying to define features, get funding, get buy-in, etc.

The problem is not with the Product Owner role. The problem is we are creating a role without focusing on the real goal, how do we improve the organization's ability to deliver more quickly, understand customer needs and adapt more quickly to market demands.

1 comment:

  1. Ouch! Sounds like design by committee. Which is known for solutions that no one hates, but neither does anyone love. Meh. I like a product owner who holds and communicates the vision.