Nancy Beers: The anti-pattern of long product backlogs

From the Visionary PO to the PO that was down in the weeds of an overly long backlog, we discuss two contrasting examples of a sense of clarity and focus in the PO role. 

The Great Product Owner: Speaking both technical and stakeholder language

Great PO’s combine a great product Vision (and the ability to communicate it), with savvy stakeholder management and communication. Additionally, a great PO is able to work with the team to understand when it is time to “pay down” some technical debt, and makes the case towards the stakeholders. 

In this segment, we refer to the Scrum Master Toolbox’s Compelling Product Vision e-course (FREE when you sign-up), and the Tetris game

The Bad Product Owner: The anti-pattern of long backlogs

One of the main tools for PO’s is the Backlog (both Sprint and Product Backlogs). However, many PO’s aren’t able to use that tool effectively. In this segment, we talk about the PO that was not able to keep the backlog short, and explore how Scrum Masters can help PO’s manage the Backlog effectively, as if it was a garden. 

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 Nancy Beers

Nancy says she is here to change the world one game at a time. She plays with people to learn or unlearn things. This can either be hard skills or soft skills (aka. Human skills)

You can link with Nancy Beers on LinkedIn and connect with Nancy Beers on Twitter

Dahm Hongchai: Learning to ask questions with empathy

In this episode, we explore how the skill of asking questions is so critical for PO’s, and we learn from Dahm some exercises to show the importance of that skill. 

The Great Product Owner: The Deep Listening PO

Great Product Owners are good at listening to the team, and the stakeholders, but mostly to the customers and the market. In this segment, we talk about how PO’s can practice deep listening, and use that skill to improve their effectiveness in the role. 

The Bad Product Owner: Learning to ask questions with empathy

Bad Product Owners have many lacking features, but in this segment, we focus especially on the inability to ask questions from the team, and the customers. Dahm shares some of his signature workshops, and how he uses those controlled environments to help PO’s learn how to go deeper in the understanding of the team and the customer.

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 Dahm Hongchai

Dahm Hongchai is an Agile coach, a Scrum Master, and a business consultant with 5 years experience in high-tech and Startup industries in Silicon Valley, Thailand, and Australia. He was the first Thai to become a Scrum Trainer (ST) with Scrum Inc. Dahm also has 10+ years of experience with other approaches such as Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. And he is an Agile trainer and helps people to understand Agile via, for example Agile Cooking.

You can link with Dahm Hongchai on LinkedIn.

Raj Solanki: The PO that took responsibility for the success of the product

Taking responsibility for the success of the product is one of the success characteristics we discuss in this episode, where we also explore what happens the PO thinks they can still code through the User Stories they write! 

The Great Product Owner: The PO that took responsibility for the success of the product

Raj introduces a PO that wanted to understand the product and do the research. The PO worked to thoroughly understand the stories, and customer needs before putting the stories in front of the team. Another great PO characteristic was the PO’s ability to be patient, and explain the same ideas as many times as necessary. 

The Bad Product Owner: The pseudo-coder PO

This Product Owner missed important meetings, even if they were invited and told they were required. To top it off, this was a PO that wrote the User Stories as if they were pseudo-code. All of this led to the team knowing very little about “why” certain stories were being implemented. 

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 Raj Solanki

Raj is a Manager, Technical program manager as well as Scrum master. He focuses on helping the teams learn about Agile, overcoming obstacles, foster a collaborative community, and more. 

He constantly reads about agile and seeks out coaches when he feels stuck. He seeks constant feedback and helps teams be transparent and build trust.

You can link with Raj Solanki on LinkedIn and connect with Raj Solanki on Twitter.

Ademar Perez: Destroying products, one feature at a time

In this episode, we talk about the contrast between the PO that only wants more features, and the PO that focuses on understanding and communicating the “big picture”.

The Great Product Owner: The Big Picture PO

Ademar’s example of a great PO was a person that was able to effectively communicate the Vision and convincingly justify the “why” for the stories presented to the team. This PO was intimately aware of the goals and direction of the business, and was able to regularly and constantly remind the team of the “big picture”. 

The Bad Product Owner: The “more features” anti-pattern

The team was able to work well within the Scrum framework, however, the PO only asked for “more features”. For this PO, “shipping more features” was just enough. The PO did not talk or explain the business goals and the outcomes for the work asked of the team.  

Are you having trouble helping the teamwork 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 Ademar Perez

Ademar Perez is cultivating high-performing product teams as an Agile Coach at Xero. He fell in love with the Agile way of working after seeing 5 to 6 scrum teams collaborate to develop a customer-facing application. Since then, Ademar has helped over 30+ teams become self-organizing and high-performing.

You can link with Ademar Perez on LinkedIn

Mustafa Ergun: The growth mindset Product Owner

We discuss how the growth mindset can help Product Owners, and also how to work with PO’s that come from a technical background. 

The Great Product Owner: The growth mindset Product Owner

Great Product Owners display the “growth mindset”, as Mustafa describes. They are easy to talk to and often discuss and accept ideas for experiments that the team can implement in the product. The PO focuses on representing the business goals and needs inside the team, and knows what tools to bring to create the right discussions and conversations with the team. Finally, the great PO links the team’s work to the goals and metrics that matter for the company.

The Bad Product Owner: Using Personal Agility Coaching Framework to help PO’s

Some PO’s that have a technical background tend to focus on the “how” part of the work and less on the “why”. This is an anti-pattern in the PO role. We discuss how to bring this topic up with the PRoduct Owner, and refer to the “Personal Agility Coaching Framework” as a way to help PO’s learn about their role. 

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 Mustafa Ergun

Mustafa is an experienced Scrum Master. He has a passion for helping individuals and organizations see their potential and make things better. His current focus is on improving teams’ performance through insightful facilitation. Mustafa is always eager to learn, share his experience with others and enjoys seeing people succeed.

You can link with Mustafa Ergun on LinkedIn and connect with Mustafa Ergun on Twitter.

Pascal Clarkson: Helping Product Owners master 2 important aspects of the role

The relationship the PO has with stakeholders is key in their ability to say “no” and stay true to the Vision of the product. In this episode, we also discuss how sometimes, standing back and letting the team lead is the wrong thing to do for a PO!

The Great Product Owner: Helping Product Owners master 2 important aspects of the role

This PO was on top of their game when it came to know the product and their customers. The PO was able to say “no” to stakeholders and was clear on the Vision for the product. And most importantly, the PO was very deliberate at checking if they had made the right decision. In this segment, we talk about the “Create a Compelling Product Vision” FREE e-course that helps Scrum Masters work with PO’s and stakeholders to define a clear Vision for the product. 

The Bad Product Owner: When stepping back as a PO is the wrong thing to do

Product Owners do well when they stand back and let the team step up and own the execution of the User Stories. However, sometimes the PO may judge the team to be more autonomous than they really are. In this segment, we talk about how we can assess if the team is ready to work with less PO guidance (which is needed, for example, when scaling up the PO role)

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 Pascal Clarkson

Pascal has a bachelor degree in computer science. After years of working as a software engineer and having 8+ years of practical experience with the Scrum Framework, he has shifted his attention towards group facilitation. He uses Systemic Modelling and other methods to support groups in their discovery of how they can be the best version of themselves.

You can link with Pascal Clarkson on LinkedIn and connect with Pascal Clarkson on Twitter

You can also follow Pascal’s writings on Artocraft.nl

Tomo Lennox: How corporate planning destroys product ownership

In this episode, we challenge you to think about what is needed beyond a great PO to be able to help the Agile teams succeed. We also discuss how the planning practices in some companies actively destroy product ownership. 

The Great Product Owner: What we need beyond a great PO

Is a good Product Owner enough? Do we really need the PO role? These are some of the thought-provoking questions we tackle in this episode. We explore ideas from Lean Startup, Customer Development and mention the book Rethinking Agile by Klaus Leopold

The Bad Product Owner: How corporate planning destroys product ownership

The Product Owner is one of the hardest roles in Agile and Scrum. Tomo starts by sharing aspects of the PO role that are often forgotten or ignored. We also discuss the dynamics that often push PO’s to only focus on managing their backlog, and miss the impact of having a clear direction / Vision for the teams. 

In this segment, we refer to the Beyond Budgeting movement, which tries to bring Agile ideas and practices to the finance departments of large and mid-size organizations.

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/coachyourpo18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Tomo Lennox

Tomo has 20 years of experience in project management, both waterfall, and Agile. A few years ago he was at David Anderson’s first Kanban Conference and has been a fanatic ever since, even though he has lost several jobs as a result of it. Tomo became then an advocate for projection over guessing, and reactive planning.

You can link with Tomo Lennox on LinkedIn and connect with Tomo Lennox on Twitter.

Dov Tsal: The Product Owner that did not know what she owned

Lack of details can be a motivator for the team to bring their creative thinking. Great Product Owners can take advantage of that. In this episode, we also discuss what happens when the PO doesn’t really know what they own.

The Great Product Owner: Bring a problem, and solve it with the team

Great Product Owners inspire the team to think of solutions the PO could not think of. To do that, they share the context and pain of the customer and leave the details out, so that the team asks questions, and starts imagining what the successful outcome would look like. In this segment, we also discuss how important it is that the PO gives time, and space to the team so they can work on the problem the PO brings to the team.

The Bad Product Owner: The PO who does not know what he owns

Sometimes, the Product Owner isn’t clear on what exactly they own. In those cases, the team can’t be clear either on what they are trying to achieve. This lack of clarity can come from the fact that the PO “hat” is thrown to someone who isn’t right for the job, and may even have a few other “side” jobs they need to attend to. Are these characteristics present in your PO? Listen in, to learn how Dov suggests we tackle these PO anti-patterns.

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 Dov Tsal

Dov Tsal is a versatile agile coach, scrum-master, change-agent, and enabler, helping companies teams, and individuals to make an impact. Dov is also the creator of the #MeetingSpicer, a coaching tool to hack meeting culture. He is also the co-creator of The Agile Tao Podcast about understanding agility through the Taoist prism.

You can link with Dov Tsal on LinkedIn

Kyla MacDonald: The Product Owner as a Scrum team member, not only team stakeholder

Looking at the Product Owner in relation to the team is a critical aspect of our assessment when coming into a new team. In this episode, we talk about the PO that was absent, and let the team alone, and contrast that with a PO that saw herself as a team member and how that changed the perspective the team had on the PO role. 

The Great Product Owner: PO as a team member, not only team stakeholder

This Product Owner believed that the team needed to share her vision and never missed a chance to share the purpose and the vision with the team. The PO also made sure that all the team members were heard, and role-modeled the idea of experimentation, and learning from exposing ideas to customers. Finally, the PO assumed the role of a team member, not a team stakeholder. 

The Bad Product Owner: Helping the PO focus on value and delight for customers

We’ve discussed often here on the podcast how “being absent” is one of the most common, and most dangerous Product Owner anti-patterns (see this article on how to solve that anti-pattern). But there’s an even worse variation that mixes in the “belief” that Agile will solve all the problems the team has, which leads the PO to step back even further. In this segment, we talk about how to bring the PO back into the conversation with the team and focus on value and delight for customers. 

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 Kyla MacDonald

Kyla imagines a world where the talk at Friday drinks is all about the great things we achieved in the week, what we learned, and what we can try next. As she puts it, people who find satisfaction, meaning, fun, and growth in their work, will naturally be in a better position to find the same in their home life. The thing that excites Kyla the most about agile is how concepts and principles apply to any and every area of your life. Which for her is running, paragliding and life on her hobby farm (they call it a lifestyle block in NZ).

You can link with Kyla MacDonald on LinkedIn and connect with Kyla MacDonald on Twitter.

Philip Rogers: Shared ownership in the Scrum Product Backlog

In this episode, we talk about how an empathic Product Owner can make a big difference when working with Scrum teams. We also discuss how Product Backlogs are really owned by the PO and the team, not only the PO.

The Great Product Owner: Empathy, and handling pressure, key PO skills

A team will quickly notice if the Product Owner has empathy, which is a critical asset for Product Owners that want to succeed. A great PO will also know how to communicate with the team, so that they can work on handling the inevitable delivery pressure that will affect both the team and the Product Owner. Finally, we discuss how great Product Owners are proactive about involving stakeholders. 

In this episode, we talk about the #NoEstimates approach to determining release dates (We’ve also discuss the #NoEstimates ideas in these episodes).

 

The Bad Product Owner: Sharing the ownership of the backlog

Philip shares with us why he thinks that there is widespread confusion about the Product Owner role. Many think that it is only the Product Owner that writes / maintains the backlog. However, really great teams understand that the PO is only one of the people that ensures the backlog is ready and up to the necessary level for the team. We also discuss what we can do, as Scrum Masters, to help teams and Product Owners own the backlog together. In this episode, we also talk about the idea of the “3 amigos” session to refine product backlog items (we’ve covered the 3 amigos sessions and approach in these episodes).

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 Philip Rogers

Phil is a father of four children and a volunteer paleontologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. He is also an “agile whisperer” (coach) who has worked with scores of teams in the spirit of continuous learning, continuous improvement, and simply finding creative ways to collaborate and have fun in the workplace.

You can link with Philip Rogers on LinkedIn and connect with Philip Rogers on Twitter.