Background and Skills for PO (was: RE: [scrumdevelopment] Re: So, what would you do in this situation?)
- Sorry to be jumping in on this conversation a little late... Just now getting a chance to wade through all of the ScrumDevelopment emails.What do you consider to be the "requistie background and skills to be effective POs"?I'm curious to get a better understanding of what everyone thinks a Product Owner should be doing and what kind of background they should have.
Kent J. McDonald
Words to Lead By: Collaborate; Iterate; Serve the Team; Consider Context; Practice Excellence; Reflect and Adapt; Deliver Value
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Mark Smeltzer
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2006 2:11 PM
Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Re: So, what would you do in this situation?Ron,When I spoke of helping the client, I really was just talking about helping and not pre-empting. Asking the client questions like, "How much value do you think this backlog item would have?" and then interactively building a Sprint plan based on his answers is a method I've used. In reference to Ken's suggestion, I haven't read Mike's book, so maybe I'm just rehashing well known strategies, and maybe there are even better strategies that I haven't learned about yet.When I spoke of ineffectual PO's, I was referring to the fact that not all people who are pushed into the PO role are created equally. In my experience, very few of them have the requisite background and skills to be effective POs on their own, and hence require an extra level of hand holding. Ultimately, they do have decision making power, but I've never met a PO who didn't appreciate, in the end, additional information to help him make those decisions.Some of these people are willing to make the effort to become effective POs, and some aren't. It is a question of motivation. So, this line of the discussion falls within the realm of how corporate politics affects development, and is about developing strategies for effectively responding to less than ideal political realities. For anyone who's read Mike's book, does it talk about such strategies?
When I was speaking of an "effective" PO, that qualifier wasn't meant to be limited to the context of the product team. Within the context of the team, the main criteria is that the PO be able to champion the fight for the customers' interests.
Since ultimately Scrum is about maximizing competitive advantage, the team ought to be generating maximal value for the customers at each iteration. In order to do that consistently, it takes more than just passion. It also takes high developed communication and critical thinking skills and access to domain expertise (it is beneficial if the PO has domain expertise, but access to it will suffice) so that the Sprint backlog is always allocated with the items of highest value. It also takes someone who is willing to take risks and sees the value of betting on his team.However, the reality is that most POs are middle managers who, as Mike said, are looking out for themselves, are not effective communicators, don't care about the customers, don't like taking risks, and don't want to do too well on something at the risk of getting pigeonholed for that position over the long-term (they want to do well enough to get promoted out of their current positions, but not so well that the higher ups see more value in keeping them in their current positions). In my experience, most people who fall into the role of PO don't want to be there, for whatever reasons, and that hurts the team's ability to succeed. Even worse, many of these middle managers got to where they are by being clever liars, by taking advantage of the trust of others, or by knowing the right people -- none of which translate to an ability to be an effective PO.
On 4/2/06, Ken Schwaber <ken.schwaber@...> wrote:
As a minimum, be the person who has the vision for what they want done and the funding to do so,