We start this episode by discussing what are some of the key skills for Product Owners. David shares that – as the Head of Product Management – he tries to help his people with the following skills:
- Value-driven mindset: solving problems instead of delivering solutions
- Communication: adapting to the different scenarios and knowing how to navigate common situations for software projects
- Empathy: being able to put themselves in the users, as well as stakeholder, and development team’s shoes
- Decision making: Sometimes we don’t have data, but we can’t stop making decisions or the team will be paralysed.
- If you listen to the end of the episode, we share one more (BONUS! 🙂 skill that David helps Product Owners with
The process to help Product Owners develop these skills
We discuss how David prepares and sets the process for helping his Product Managers develop those skills. As training is not necessary, and the PO’s must continuously receive feedback from their manager as well as their peers and stakeholders.
In this segment, we also discuss how the Scrum Master can help the PO develop these skills by forming a partnership.
The biggest obstacle Product Owners face
In his experience, David has seen that often Product Owners face a deluge of information, and huge backlogs, leading to a feeling of overwhelm and powerlessness. This feeling of overwhelm may lead Product Owners to be scared of taking action, or making decisions. Later on in this episode, David shares a tool we can use to reduce overwhelm for Product Owners.
The first skill to develop for Product Owners
Even if there are several skills that Product Owners need to develop, there’s always one to start with. When asked, David shares that he helps his Product Owners focus on the Value-driven Mindset skill at first. He uses a metaphor for help the Product Owners: the patient-doctor. He suggests that Product Owners are doctors, and must seek the root of the pain for the users, instead of just trying to deliver what they ask for. No responsible doctor would just give drugs to their patients without understanding what they suffer from. David suggests that Product Owners should take the same stance, and seek for the root cause of the pain being shared.
How to reduce overwhelm for Product Owners
When Product Owners start with a new team, and suddenly get overwhelmed by the very large backlogs that have been collected, they may be tempted to start working through the whole backlog, leading to an even stronger feeling of overwhelm. That’s not David’s approach. He suggests a different approach and describes how he has applied it in the past, to remove the feeling of overwhelm as a Product Owner.
Resources for Scrum Masters working with Product Owners
David suggests 3 different resources to accommodate the different learning styles out there. He suggests
- A blog on Medium called Serious Scrum
- A podcast by Melissa Perry called “Product Thinking”
- A book by Marty Cagan: Inspired
About David Pereira
David is a passionate Product Leader who loves leading teams in building solutions that challenge the status quo.
He is currently the Head of Product Management at Virutal Identity in Munich.
He’s also written a free ebook on the top 7 mistakes of a product owner which you can get at https://bit.ly/po7mistakes