Izis Filipaldi: What makes the Proxy Product Owner as a success pattern?

Although Proxy Product Owners may be an anti-pattern, there are cases in which that ability to be a bridge and translate the customer requirements will help the team. 

We also talk about the case of the PO that needed to learn to speak the team’s language.

The Great Product Owner: The translator Product Owner Proxy

It’s easy to be tempted to hire a very experienced Product Owner. However, in some situations, what the team needs is a hard-working Product Owner with a good understanding of technology, to help translate user/customer requirements into small enough stories. In this segment, we talk about the newbie PO, that was technical-minded and was able to translate the customer requirements in a way that helped the team.

The Bad Product Owner: The business PO, who did not speak User Story-language

When a Product Owner joins a team, and has little knowledge of the product, the team may need to step in and help the Product Owner. However, that help can detract from the PO’s need and ability to learn the product. In this segment, we discuss such a case, and how Izis was able to help that Product Owner step up and take on more responsibility.

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Izis Filipaldi

Izis’ mission is to help people to improve their knowledge and professional value inside organizations, applying the agile way of working. She has been working as an Agile Coach for more than 7 years, helping people to deliver products, developing an environment free of judgments where they can fail fast and learn faster. Continuous improvement of: people knowledge, product delivery, and work environment, are her 3 main focus on work. And she loves what she does!

You can link with Izis Filipaldi on LinkedIn and connect with Izis Filipaldi on Twitter.

BONUS: Does Agile play well in Leadership teams in organizations? – Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein

Diana and I were kicking around a few topics for this episode, and we ended up selecting “Agile and Leadership, friends or foes?” The idea is to talk about how Agile and Leadership play together (or not)

In this episode, we talk with Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein about what problems Leaders try to fix with Agile, what challenges they have when they try to adopt Agile, and we will do this with the focus on the Scrum Master role, and what they can do by working with the leaders of the organizations they work within.

Let’s start by defining some of the major challenges we see happening out there.

The 3 biggest challenges on how Agile plays (or not) with Leadership

Some of the challenges we mention in this episode are not new. You are probably familiar with many of them. We talk about how Agile requires us to think about leadership as a distributed responsibility that team members need to take on, which is itself a major challenge for Scrum Masters as they help their teams understand what that means in practice. 

We also discuss how important it is to understand that leadership is not simply a “role”, but also something we need to earn, including Scrum Masters.

Finally, we talk about the important role that leaders play for the teams they work with. Specifically in setting the direction that helps the teams adopt quicker processes like Hypothesis-Driven-Development, for example.

How Scrum Masters can cope with these challenges

We then discuss how Scrum Masters can understand, and learn to cope with these challenges. Not surprisingly, Agile Retrospectives come up as a critical tool for Scrum Masters to use when working with teams and their leaders. 

Regarding collaboration with leaders, we discuss how Scrum Masters can help teams focus on the right goals, which need to be defined in cooperation with leaders in the organization.

But there’s a second tool we discuss that complements perfectly the work we do with the retrospectives and helps the teams and leaders understand where they can contribute the most: visualization as a way to establish a shared context.

Do Scrum Masters really need to protect the team from their leaders? 

Stop me if you have heard this one before. Way back when I was taught that Scrum Masters need to protect the team from interference. Although it made sense to me at the time, with the passing of time, and after collecting more than a decade of experience, I have come to value a different approach. 

In this segment, we talk about the need (or not) to protect the team from Leadership interference. 

The goal, of course, is to generate a real collaboration between the team and the leaders in the organization.

The key resources on leadership and Scrum by Diana Larsen, Jutta Eckstein and Vasco Duarte

Given that leadership, and the collaboration between teams and leaders is a critical topic for Scrum Masters, we discuss some of the resources (books, podcasts, articles) we’ve found useful and informative on how to tackle that collaboration. 

Here are the resources we mention: 

 

How about you? What have been your major challenges when working with leaders in your organization? Leave a comment below and share the tools/books/podcasts you’ve found useful. 

About Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein

Diana Larsen co-founded and collaborates in leadership of Agile Fluency™ Project. Diana co-authored the books Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great; Liftoff: Start and Sustain Successful Agile Teams; Five Rules for Accelerated Learning; and the seminal “Agile Fluency Model: A Brief Guide to Success with Agile” article.

You can link with Diana Larsen on LinkedIn and connect with Diana Larsen on Twitter

 

Jutta Eckstein works as an independent coach & consultant. 

As a developer, she started with XP in 97/98, started scaling agile in 2001 (and published about that in 2004), and am now Jutta focuses on company-wide agility.

You can link with Jutta Eckstein on LinkedIn and connect with Jutta Eckstein on Twitter

You can learn more at Jutta Eckstein’s website, and check out Jutta’s books on Amazon and LeanPub.

Jutta’s Agile Bossanova book is available here.

Nick Stewart: The Inexperienced PO and what to do to help them

From an inexperienced PO to a PO with a clear Vision, in this episode, we explore two totally different types of Product Owners, and we learn from Nick what worked in those cases.

The Great Product Owner: The Clear Vision PO

This Product Owner behaved like a great PO from the start of the project. The PO had a clear vision for the end result and was able to filter all the requests and requirements. From the team’s perspective, the process felt seamless. 

If it was only like this for all teams we work with. Listen in to learn what made this PO so productive and his approach motivating for the team

The Bad Product Owner: The Inexperienced PO

At one point Nick was working with a new and inexperienced Product Owner. This did not make things easy, and the anti-patterns quickly started to surface. 

It was a coaching challenge for Nick. In this segment, we explore the techniques and approaches that Nick used to try and help this inexperienced PO.

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Nick Stewart

Nick has worked in the “Projects Space” for the last 5 years, initially working with business change, then in IT using Prince 2, Waterfall and ultimately found Agile organically through pain of delivering projects using the other methodologies. More recently he has taken on a Delivery Lead role which allows him to continue to learn whilst helping teams deliver continuous value.

You can link with Nick Stewart on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Stewart on Twitter

Sebastian Reverso: The PO who as able to be the Voice of the Customer

In this episode, we discuss two very different Product Owner patterns. We talk about a PO that felt their role was to be the voice of the customer, and the PO who felt the team was merely a “service provider” and they were the “outsider” who would demand service.

The Great Product Owner: The voice of the customer

This Product Owner had faced real customers. The PO worked previously in customer services and had to face the customer regularly. As she started working with the team, she was able to convey her ideas clearly, and from the customer’s point of view. At the same time, she did not interfere with the team’s technical discussion, letting them decide how the team would implement those ideas in practice.

The Bad Product Owner: The “outsider” PO

This particular Product Owner was stuck with the idea that the PO is not part of the team. That led to several problems. For example, the team would end up reporting “status” to the PO in the dailies and ended up trying to push more stories into the sprints. In this segment, we discuss how we can help PO’s that have that “outsider” perspective and how to get to a point when the PO feels like they are part of the team.

 

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Sebastian Reverso

Sebastian is from Tucuman, Argentina. He has been working as a software developer since 2012 and as a Scrum Master since 2017. 

Among his favorite activities are mountain biking and football (soccer).

You can link with Sebastian Reverso on LinkedIn and connect with Sebastian Reverso on Twitter.

Jaime Bartol: from micro-managing Product Owners to confident, but enabling PO’s

From a confident Product Owner, the team can get a feeling that they are working on the right things, and use that to ask the right questions from the PO. However, sometimes that PO confidence can morph into an autocratic, micro-managing approach. We discuss how to identify when that happens and what to out for when working with confident Product Owners.

The Great Product Owner: Confident enough to be vulnerable

When a Product Owner understands well the product they are managing, it becomes easier for them to interact with the team. But that’s just the start. A great Product Owner is also able to say what they don’t know, and invite the team to bring their own knowledge and contribution to the process of defining what to work on. 

The Bad Product Owner: Second-guessing the team

Product Owners benefit from having technical knowledge of the product they manage. However, when they use that technical knowledge to second-guess the team, it’s easy for conflict to emerge. In this episode, we talk about how to work with PO’s that start by trying to micro-manage the team and second-guess their decisions. It’s not easy, but there are certain techniques we can use to help those PO’s

 

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Jaime Bartol

Jaime has been a ScrumMaster/Agile Coach for 6 years with experience in large organizations as well as startup teams! She has worked with frontend and data engineering teams and even brought Agile to awesome marketing teams! Jaime’s passion is about teams and using Agile/Scrum fundamentals to elevate efficiency, productivity, and joy!

You can link with Jaime Bartol on LinkedIn.

Rachel Martz: behind great teams, there’s a hard-working Product Owner!

When PO’s give their full attention to the team, great things happen. In this episode, we talk about the hard-working, committed PO but also explore what happens when the PO forgets one of their basic responsibilities: communicate Non-Functional Requirements.

The Great Product Owner: The hard-working, committed PO

In our Coach Your Product Owner course, we have a module that specifically tackles the most common PO anti-pattern: not being available. However, in this episode, we talk about the opposite. The tremendous impact that a PO can have when they are present and willing to work with the team. Add a bit of trust, and see the team excel, with the help of the PO!

The Bad Product Owner: Forgetting non-functional requirements

Even when the Product Owner might have a Vision or a “story” for the product, the fact is that the PO role is much more than knowing what the product is about. In this segment, we discuss how forgetting simple things (like non-functional requirements) can totally destroy the effectiveness of the PO role.

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Rachel Martz

Rachel has been in digital product development for over 20 years, having performed every role imaginable. She entered the agile space 13 years ago, doing hands-on product strategy and development modernization. 

Rachel is in the data and analytics industry at the moment and loves being a Scrum Master because it’s the most impactful role she can have for helping improve people’s lives.

You can link with Rachel Martz on LinkedIn

Angeliki Hertzfeldt: On what happens when the PO isn’t interested in what it means to be a good PO

Some PO’s want to give it all, and be as good PO’s as they can be, others are lost, and don’t even have a Product Vision. In this episode, we talk about these 2 contrasting types of PO’s and how they affect the teams they work with.

The Great Product Owner: The committed PO

A great PO knows when they need help, and continuously work to improve their understanding and performance in that role. If the Product Owner has a clear Vision, and is able to communicate it to the team, that’s half-way to being a better PO. We also discuss several other aspects that tell you if the PO is committed to the role or not.

The Bad Product Owner: No-Vision PO

When the PO comes to Sprint planning and asks the team “What do you want to work on?” that’s a worrying sign. When you see that the PO isn’t worried about priorities, and doesn’t have a Vision, that’s a very serious problem for the team. In this segment, we talk about the consequences this PO had on the team, and how Angeliki was able to help that PO and the team.

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Angeliki Hertzfeldt

Angeliki finds that Scrum has transformed her into a better person: in the working environment, with friends and strangers, in social activities, and with her family, as a new mum.

You can link with Angeliki Hertzfeldt on LinkedIn and connect with Angeliki Hertzfeldt on Twitter

Joost Mulders: Product Owner as the facilitator of Product-related conversations

From facilitation to stepping away from line-management approaches, how do we help Product Owners do a good job, and collaborate with the team and Scrum Master? 

The Great Product Owner: The Facilitator of Product Conversations

We often refer to the Scrum Master as a “facilitator”. Sure, but how about the Product Owner? Do we expect the Product Owner to be a “dictator”, and tell others what to do without ever listening to their input? 

In this segment, we talk about the Product Owner as a facilitation role. Facilitating conversations with team and stakeholders about the product. 

The Bad Product Owner: The line-manager turned Product Owner

Some Product Owners expect that they “own” the team. They might even assign tasks to people in the team, and manage people’s time. This is expected if the PO has been – or is – the team’s line manager. But, in those cases, how do we establish a positive relationship and clarify agreements with the Scrum Master? In this segment, we discuss how to work with the PO to set expectations for the work of both the Scrum Master and the Product Owner.

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Joost Mulders

Joost has been an agile practitioner since 2008 and is continuously uncovering new ways to help teams and organizations on their agile journey. He’s taken several roles in that journey, such as Scrum Master, agile coach or management coach. He strives to create work-life fusion with agile, ultrarunning and filmmaking as the main ingredients.

You can link with Joost Mulders on LinkedIn and connect with Joost Mulders on Twitter.

BONUS: Diana Getman – How checklists make Agile teams faster and deliver with high quality, without adding more processes

In this episode, we explore the role that checklists can have in helping teams improve their process and their performance without adding more processes. 

It is a normal tendency to “add more processes” to fix a problem a team is experiencing. In this episode, we challenge that view. Checklists, we argue, are a simple, effective tool that helps you reach a similar goal, but does not require the process to grow, and become bloated. 

2 Common types of checklists that help teams improve how they work

There are several types of items we can add to a checklist. In this segment, we discuss 2 common types of checklists, and how they can help teams. We start by discussing the “process checklists”, which may include important tips on how to execute a certain process. 

The key thing to remember is that checklists don’t replace processes, but are rather a set of reminders, or items that help teams execute a process once they’ve already read and understood the process. 

The second type of checklists we discuss are those that summarize a series of requirements or pre-conditions that a team needs to follow-up on. This may include quality requirements or certain tasks that need to be completed before a certain work item is considered complete. 

The most common checklists Scrum teams use

Scrum teams have a common set of checklists that they use. We discuss the commonly used Definition of Done, and also talk about the importance of having a Definition of Ready, and how that may help teams get started on the right foot when a new Sprint is about to kick-off.

Additionally, we talk about a pre-release checklist. With a pre-release checklist, teams are able to keep a memory of what they’ve learned from the past about meeting the release requirements, and can continuously improve that critical aspect of any team’s process.

In this segment, we also tackle the usual objections that people given when asked to consider the use of checklists. Checklists may be seen as “more bureaucracy”, but instead, they are there to help teams summarize a process that already exists, provides transparency about the process execution, and ultimately it should be a time saver for the team.

How about you? How have you used Checklists in your work? Share your experience in the comments below.

About Diana Getman

Diana Getman has more than 25 years of experience as a project manager leading cross-functional teams, in both startup and non-profit organizations. Diana has held the roles of Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach and is the current President at Ascendle, a custom software development firm in Portsmouth, NH.

You can link with Diana Getman on LinkedIn, or visit Ascendle’s blog for more on checklists.

Remy Fletcher: From the “how” to the “why”, how great product owners empower the team

The level of detail and involvement with the implementation decisions is a good indicator of the quality of the Product Owner’s work.

The Great Product Owner: Focusing on the “why?”

Great Product Owners are open to the team’s questions, and even encourage them to ask questions. They focus on communicating the “WHY?” of the product instead of narrowly focusing on the detailed functionality.

The Bad Product Owner: Micro-managing the “how?”

In contrast, the Bad Product Owner focuses on the “HOW?” and may even try to micro-manage the team’s technology and implementation decisions. 

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Remy Fletcher

Remy is a Scrum Master at a Fin-Tech corporation outside of Boston. Currently working with 3 scrum teams with a focus of migrating individual products onto a centralized, scalable platform.

You can link with Remy Fletcher on LinkedIn and connect with Remy Fletcher on Twitter.