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Andrew Mitchell: Communication, and Empowering Engineers, Two Product Owner Superpowers

The Great Product Owner: Marty Cagan’s Influence, Inspiring Excellence in Product Ownership

In this segment, Andrew emphasizes the importance of moving POs out of engineering and into the business to better understand business needs. Inspired by Marty Cagan’s book “Inspired”, this great PO excelled in writing effective stories and facilitated closer collaboration between developers and customers. They viewed the engineers’ involvement with customers as a helpful aid rather than a threat. This shift toward self-management empowered the team and enabled faster delivery of products. A great PO plays a crucial role in fostering collaboration, understanding business requirements, and driving successful outcomes.

The Bad Product Owner: The PO that could not communicate requirements effectively, and what to do about it

In this segment, Andrew discusses the challenges that arise from having a bad Product Owner (PO). These POs excel in discovery but struggle to communicate effectively with the team, leading to frustration and a lack of trust. Andrew suggests coaching the POs in writing clear stories and focusing on value and prioritization. Interrupting the team’s work is another issue to avoid. He emphasizes the importance of well-defined acceptance criteria in stories. Andrew also notes that problems with bad POs often stem from organizational issues rather than individual skills. Bringing the team closer to the discovery work can help address these challenges effectively.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Andrew Mitchell

Andrew prioritizes people when building products, aiming for happy and engaged employees who create great products and serve customers well. He emphasizes trust, psychological safety, servant leadership, and believes Scrum is the best framework to achieve these goals.

He was also a host of the Product Owner Summit 2023, where we collaborated.

You can link with Andrew Mitchell on LinkedIn.

Mirela Mus: The Super Scrum Master, Blending Product Expertise and Coaching Skills

The Great Product Owner: The Super Scrum Master, Blending Product Expertise and Coaching Skills

In this episode, the focus was on a Scrum Master who went above and beyond the traditional role. This Scrum Master had extensive experience with the product side and demonstrated a highly personable nature with a coaching attitude. The phrase “it’s humans all the way down” encapsulated their approach, emphasizing the importance of understanding and dealing with people from a human perspective. The episode highlighted the multifaceted skills and perspectives that this Scrum Master brought to the role, emphasizing the value of combining product knowledge, interpersonal skills, and a coaching mindset to create a positive and effective team dynamic.

The Bad Product Owner: Unveiling a Scrum Master Anti-pattern, and what PO’s can do about it

In this episode, Mirela discussed a Scrum Master anti-pattern where certain individuals disrupted the entire team under cover of implementing Scrum. Mirela suggests that one way to avoid this anti-pattern is to have a mentor to support the Product Owner. In the mentoring sessions, Mirela questioned the PO about whether the work of the Scrum Master was causing disruption and noise, and whether they were escalating numerous issues. She advised self-reflection to identify any triggers for such behavior. Building positive relationships within the team was recommended. Mirela emphasizes that excessive escalation is detrimental to everyone involved.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Mirela Mus

Mirela is the founder of Product People, a Product Management Consultancy on a mission to help companies discover and deliver great products faster. They have 41 full-time Product Managers who help companies focus on product-led growth and/or profitability.

You can link with Mirela Mus on LinkedIn and connect with Mirela Mus on Twitter.

Takunda Noha: The Customer-Centric PO, Embracing the Gemba Walk as a Product Owner

The Great Product Owner: Customer-Centric PO, Embracing the Gemba Walk as a Product Owner

In this episode, the focus is on a remarkable product owner who actively engaged in the Gemba walk. The Gemba walk involves visiting the places where the team, staff, and customers interact to observe how the product is being consumed. The episode highlights that it is uncommon for product owners to actively participate in this practice. The exceptional product owner was known for his authenticity and commitment to his words. He demonstrated his dedication by being the first one present when the store opened and even disguised himself as a regular customer to gather valuable information. This genuine approach built trust as he shared insights that were not made up. The episode concludes by emphasizing the importance of checking one’s ego at the door in order to truly understand and serve customers.

The Bad Product Owner: CEO-like Pressure, Overcoming the Struggle to Say ‘No’ as a Product Owner

In this episode, the focus is on a common anti-pattern of a product owner (PO) who struggles to say “no.” The role of a PO is compared to that of a CEO, as they face immense pressure to deliver. The episode emphasizes the importance of having a strong backbone to effectively fulfill the responsibilities of a PO. The struggle to say “no” often leads to deviations from the planned direction and goals, causing challenges in achieving outcomes within quarterly cycles. Takunda shares some tips on how to help PO’s stuck in this anti-pattern. We cover, for example, assessing whether the PO is taking on too many tasks, and considering the opportunity cost of not prioritizing the original goals. We also discuss the need to stick to the planned path and make changes in future sprints rather than pivoting impulsively.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Takunda Noha

Takunda is a seasoned change agent. He specializes in turning dysfunctional teams into high performing teams.

You can link with Takunda Noha on LinkedIn.

Kaisa Martiskainen: The danger of thinking you know the solution before involving customers, a case study for Agile teams

In this episode, Kaisa talks about a temporary team that was formed to solve a problem in their organization. The team was using monitoring tools that sent a lot of alerts, making it difficult for customer support to determine which alerts required action. Kaisa and her colleague wanted to try out Agile practices to address this issue.

However, one individual on the team almost destroyed it with their behavior. One person, who was an expert on the monitoring tool, sent a PowerPoint presentation with all the solutions without consulting with others. This person also declined meeting invitations and eventually left the company after becoming angry.

Kaisa highlights two anti-patterns: thinking we know the solution without involving the customer and pushing one’s own solutions without consulting with others. She also emphasizes the importance of changing the culture of action and including customer feedback. Ultimately, the team reached its goal after the problematic person left, and Kaisa learned the importance of involving everyone in the problem-solving process.

Featured Book of the Week: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Lencioni

Kaisa recommends the book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Lencioni as a helpful resource for understanding common issues that can arise in a team environment.

She also discusses the concept of System’s intelligence, introduced by Esa Saarinen (PDF Download), which emphasizes the importance of connecting engineering thinking with human sensitivity.

Kaisa also recommends “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay as a book that has helped her avoid an anti-pattern where her knee-jerk reaction is to immediately help someone without allowing the person to help themselves. The book provides seven questions that every coach should ask, which help to increase precision and effectiveness and allow others to take more responsibility. By asking these questions, sometimes people realize they do not need Kaisa’s help. This allows her to avoid being overly involved and helps people become more self-sufficient.

Transform Your Agile Teams with Hard-Earned Lessons from Super-Experienced Scrum Masters

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!

About Kaisa Martiskainen

Kaisa is an Agile coach working for a large multinational software company. Originally from Finland, her thirst for learning new things and passion for languages led her to live in Sweden, and Scotland before settling in Montreal, Canada. She is an avid Redditor who spends her free time reading, knitting, investing and playing with her two daughters.

You can link with Kaisa Martiskainen on LinkedIn.

Manuele Piastra: Customer-Centric Product Ownership, and how it grows the product IQ of the Scrum team

The Great Product Owner: Coaching the Uncoachable, Dealing with Difficult Product Owners

In this segment, Manuele talks about the anti-pattern of a Product Owner (PO) with a product manager background. PO’s with this background tend to focus on managing the work and the team, assigning tasks themselves, and writing solution-centric stories. They provide little focus on the “why” and the vision, which deviates from the idea of working as a team and breaks team dynamics. Manuele suggests nurturing the relationship if the PO is open to learning and working with you, but redefining the coaching contract with the sponsors if the PO is a senior person who is used to telling others what to do. If you can’t coach the PO, Manuele advises considering getting out of there.

For ideas, tips, and models to use when coaching your Product Owner, check out our Coach Your PO e-course, now on its second version.

The Bad Product Owner: Customer-Centric Product Ownership, and how it grows the product IQ of the team

In this episode, Manuele talks about the impact a great Product Owner (PO) can have on a Scrum team. He explains that great POs start from the “why” and develop a compelling vision for the product. They find out who the customers and personas are and help team members get in touch directly with customers and stakeholders. This helps raise the product IQ of the team, making them more product savvy. Great POs allow team members to talk to customers and stakeholders to understand their needs better. Manuele suggests that POs should frame the problems clearly and not worry about how the team divides the work. When working with a great PO, it feels easy.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Manuele Piastra

Manuele Piastra moved to London in 2014, which was a life-changing experience for him. He gained access to more sources of learning, worked in fast-paced companies with complex technology stacks and ambitious goals, and developed open-mindedness, patience, and autonomy.

You can link with Manuele Piastra on LinkedIn and connect with Manuele Piastra on Twitter.

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Down-to-earth, hard-earned Scrum Masters lessons and the Tips from the Trenches e-book table of contents, delivered by email
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Internal Conference
Checklist
Internal Conference
Checklist
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Motivate your team with the right metrics, and the right way to visualize and track them. Marcus presents a detailed How-To document based on his experience at The Bungsu Hospital
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
A moving story of how work at the Bungsu Hospital was transformed by a simple tool that you can use to help your team.
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
A Quick & Practical Guide to Agile Projects for BI
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