Empower your Product Owner (Not design by committee)

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I’ve always tried to surround myself with people I trust in terms of dealing with workloads, making the right decisions and generally trying to empower those people as much as possible.

As any scrum related book or training course will tell you, the most important aspect of being a Product Owner is being empowered to make decisions (they might not always be the right ones!) and confidently being able to say “No!” where required.

A wise man once told me:

“Opinions are like noses.  Everybody has one!”

In his example, he referenced a slightly more explicit body part, but you get the jist!

From creating product visions, through to sprint demos, everyone will want to give you feedback.  Some of this will be useful, and some not so much but Product Managers need to be able to take that information, filter it accordingly.  Normally I try to deal with feedback in demos immediately by categorising into one of these points:

  • Yes, good point. We should include that early on into our planning.
  • Thanks, it’s a nice to have. I’ll put it on the backlog – at the bottom.
  • Err no. We don’t want to do that. It doesn’t fit in with what we are trying to do.

If as a Product Owner, you are not empowered to do the above, it’s only a matter of time before the product will fail by either not delivering what it should, or by being delivered late (or both!)

If not, I feel that this is the alternative:

Ok, that video is a bit exaggarated, but I’ve sat in meetings (as an unempowered Product Owner) and had to sit through discussions of what shade of blue we should use on a logo.

I’m sure I’m not the only one…

Lend me your thoughts and opinions (all are welcomed in this case!)

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