Saturday, January 25, 2014

Product Owner -- the good and the bad


Mike Griffiths at "leadinganswers" had a recent posting on what he called the "agile horrors". Here's two lists he provided, one: the good news; and another one: the bad news re the behavior and competence of product owner in an project context.

Now, Mike would say this is all about agile, but hey!: good product owners are an asset to any methodology, and what they do is not that all different in one method over another. Let's not rebottle the wine when it's not necessary; a plain label will do nicely.

First the good news [would you want this any different if it weren't agile? No, of course not]:

C – Collaborative – willing to discuss and evaluate alternative solutions
O – Owners – owning the backlog of work, taking reasonability for its grooming
N – Nearby – available when required to ask questions and get clarifications
C – Committed – having the same person or people throughout the project
R – Representative – representing the group we are building for, not personal goals
E – Expert – knowledgeable about the domain at hand to answer team questions
T – Traceable – contactable when needed or with a proxy available if away
E – Experienced – experienced in the field to warn of outliers and exceptions

And, then there is the bad news about how some product owners don't walk the walk:
C - Contrary – decisions flip-flop with no clear explanation
A - Absent – you cannot find them or get their time when needed
S - Switching – the person changes, no dedicated product owner is assigned
P - Passive – without prompting we would not hear from them for long periods
E - Elusive – they will not provide clear feedback on the suitability of a prototype
R - Reclusive – they withdraw from priority discussions and decisions

Of course, years before this list, Dr Barry Boehm had his CRACK list:
•Collaborative: they will engage with their customer peers and with the development team
•Representative: they know the product or system requirements and can represent their constituents accurately
•Authorized: they can make the decisions needed to keep velocity up, and their decisions stick!
•Committed: they take their job seriously and make every effort to advance project success
•Knowledgeable: they can understand what the developers are telling them in the context of the business or market situation

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