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.

Micah Stamper: Contrasting detail-oriented and holistic Product Owners

The topics Product Owners choose to focus on, impact greatly their, and their team’s effectiveness. In this episode, we contrast two types of focus, and how those different approaches affect the PO’s work.

The Great Product Owner: The holistic PO

Product Owners, as described in Scrum, are responsible for the success of the Product they own. In this segment, we talk about the whole ecosystem of the product. The PO role is not only about User Stories and Backlogs, and we dive into other critical aspects that are often forgotten.

The Bad Product Owner: The tech-centered, order taker

Product Owners can have a big impact on the effectiveness of the teams they work with. Some PO’s will take that seriously and invest in their growth in either technical or business knowledge. However, when that does not happen, we experience PO’s that take orders from business or want to dive into the technical details – because they are familiar with the technology. In this segment, we talk about the perfect storm of a PO: a PO that only takes orders and wants to dive into the technical details. Listen in to learn how you can help those Product Owners.

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 Micah Stamper

Micah worked in technology for about 7 years. He has a background in lean principles and how to bring that to technology. Has done everything from Project Management to Software Engineering, Leadership, and Scrum Master.

You can link with Micah Stamper on LinkedIn and connect with Micah Stamper on Twitter

Rahul Bhattacharya from Micro-managing to engaging the team, a critical shift for Product Owners

In this episode, we talk about 2 extremes of team engagement by Product Owners: from micro-managing to asking questions and involving the team.

The Great Product Owner: Asking Questions to involve the team

Good Product Owners allow the team to participate and contribute their views when planning the Sprint. In this segment, we talk about Great Product Owners, those that not only allow, but encourage the team to bring their view into planning and defining the product.

We also discuss how asking questions is a critical tool for Product Owners to get teams engaged in the development of the product.

In this segment, we talk about transactional analysis, a tool that can help Scrum Masters recognize when the Product Owner needs help in involving the team.

The Bad Product Owner: The micro-managing Product Owner

When Product Owners “take over” the planning aspects they miss the team’s contribution, and likely motivation. However, there is an even more serious anti-pattern for Product Owners: being a micro-manager. In this segment, we discuss the dangers of over-controlling Product Owners, and how Scrum Masters should react in those cases.

 

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 Rahul Bhattacharya

Rahul Bhattacharya is currently working as an Agile Coach at trivago. He is responsible for optimizing the ways of working within the organization, coaching others on best practices while simultaneously guiding teams working on different products. Rahul is passionate about constant learning through experimentation and feedback.

He is also the host of a podcast about Agile, called the Agile Atelier.

You can link with Rahul Bhattacharya on LinkedIn and connect with Rahul Bhattacharya on Twitter.

Ines Stuppacher: The super-fast PO who got up to speed with the team in 1 Sprint!

In this episode, we talk about one of the most common anti-patterns for PO’s: being too busy, and we also discuss how PO’s can get up to speed in one sprint when they join a new team.

The Great Product Owner: The Goal-Oriented PO

In this segment, we talk about a new PO. The PO had just joined the company and had to learn quickly. Instead of spending a lot of time reading and asking people, this PO did something different. This PO engaged the team directly and with their help got off to a great start in just one sprint.

The Bad Product Owner: The Proxy PO 

When teams don’t have direct access to the “customer” PO, they usually resort to using a “proxy PO”. Someone close to the team, that acts as a communication link with the end customer and real PO. However, sometimes those Proxy PO’s have to fulfill other duties, and may even need to serve multiple teams. How can we help teams when that happens? 

In this episode, we talk about how to help super busy-PO’s and teams that suffer from their absence. We’ve also produced a guide, that helps you, step-by-step get to an agreement of how to collaborate with overly busy or absent PO’s. You can get the guide on how to work with absent or overly busy Product Owners here.

 

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 Ines Stuppacher

Ines Stuppacher is a passionate team coach and Scrum Master. Working with people challenges and inspires her every day. Her coaching mentality is an important pillar of her life and work. Ines does not impose things on people but rather sees herself as a waiter of options. She strives to show up as her full human self in all kinds of situations and with that fosters real connections with other people.

You can link with Ines Stuppacher on LinkedIn or XING and connect with Ines Stuppacher on Twitter

Ben Clark: The empowering Product Owner

In this episode, we talk about 2 contrasting patterns, one that focused on allowing the team to grow and own the product, while the other was taking on too much responsibility and not letting the team feel ownership of the product. 

The Great Product Owner: Empower the Scrum Team

Sometimes, the PO has a Scrum Master perspective and is able to understand how to work with teams so that the teams feel empowered to pick up stories and collaborate better. We usually say “the team can be only as good as the Product Owner”, and in this segment, we explore what this great PO did to help the team feel empowered and engaged.

The Bad Product Owner: Overly detailed PO’s take responsibility away from the team

When the Product Owners come to the backlog refinement/grooming meeting with the stories completely fleshed out, it’s easy to accept the stories as they are. Not to challenge or further refine them. That’s not always a good thing. The team feels the Product is “somebody else’s responsibility”, the opposite of what we want. In this segment, we discuss what Scrum Masters can do to help the team take responsibility, and avoid having too much product knowledge locked in the PO’s head.

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 Ben Clark

Ben’s career has spanned from working assembly at Ford Motor Co, IT consulting, DSL Internet provider using wireless building-to-building antennas, systems administration and engineering, data center floor work, DevOps, cloud engineering, cloud architecture, scrum master, people-leader, and agile coach.

Ben is now an Agile Coach. 

You can link with Ben Clark on LinkedIn and connect with Ben Clark on Twitter.

Dragana Hadzic: How to deal with an Absent or Overly busy PO

From passionate Product Owners to the Product Owners that are MIA (Missing in Action), we talk about two aspects that directly affect the team’s performance.

The Great Product Owner: The Passionate Product Owner

Great Product Owners are often passionate about the product they work on. In this segment we talk about a PO that was able to give that passion to the team, making them an great team. In this segment we also about User Story Mapping, a method popularized by Jeff Patton (Jeff has been a previous guest on the podcast) that helps the team and PO understand the context of the User Stories they are implementing. 

The Bad Product Owner: The Absent Product Owner

Working with a Proxy Product Owner is bad enough, however, then that PO doesn’t have time to work daily with the team, things get even worse! We’ve discussed this anti-pattern before here on the blog, and have created a guide for you to help those product owners. Get the guide on how to work with absent or overly busy Product Owners here.

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 Dragana Hadzic

Dragana is an agile enthusiast who believes communication is critical for success in everything, including software projects. A Scrum Master and an Agile Coach with broad experience in IT industry and different leadership roles. Passionate about everything that brings positive energy and enables people to achieve great results.

You can link with Dragana Hadzic on LinkedIn and connect with Dragana Hadzic on Twitter

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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
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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
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This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
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This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
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