Kirsi Sahlstén: A Great Product Owner who Encouraged Experimentation and Built an Inspired Team

The Great Product Owner: Encouraging Experimentation and Building an Inspired Team, How Great POs work!

Kirsi highlights the qualities of an exemplary Product Owner who inspires and guides their team effectively. This PO was modest yet visionary, capable of simplifying complex requirements and fostering a collaborative environment. Kirsi shares how this PO encouraged experimentation and learning, creating an inspired and productive team. Discover the traits that make a Product Owner truly great and how they can positively impact their team’s performance.

The Bad Product Owner: The Indecisive Product Owner

Kirsi discusses the anti-pattern of an indecisive Product Owner who lacks direction and decision-making skills. She explains how this leads to a lack of progress and team direction. Kirsi shares tips on how to coach Product Owners to make time for the team, avoid excessive meetings, and focus on the product vision. Learn the common pitfalls of an indecisive PO and how to overcome them.

In this episode, we refer to the Sprint Checklist, a tool you can use to help the PO better manage their time to be available for the team when necessary. You can download the Sprint Checklist tool for Scrum Masters, here.

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 Kirsi Sahlstén

Kirsi is a wanna-be neuroscientist and wanna-be full-stack developer who, in real life, ended up as an Agile coach. She is passionate about sparking and enabling learning and unlearning, working together across boundaries, and focusing on the essential. Her favorite question is “Why?” and she is fascinated by the complexity of simplicity.

You can link with Kirsi Sahlstén on LinkedIn.

Rebecca Cyr: Evaluating Product Value, Metrics for Scrum Masters and Product Owners

In this success episode, Rebecca emphasizes the importance of driving positive change both within the team and the organization. She discusses metrics such as fun, trust, and motivation, and the challenges of ensuring the Product Owner (PO) helps the team deliver value. Rebecca shares tips on evaluating value and focusing on product-related metrics. What does success mean for Scrum Masters, and how can you measure it effectively?

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: I Like/I Wish/I Wonder

In this segment, Rebecca shares her favorite retrospective format: “I Like/I Wish/I Wonder.” This simple, non-confrontational format encourages team members to provide feedback in a positive and constructive way. Rebecca highlights the importance of preparing for retrospectives by considering the team’s context and emotional state. Discover how this format can help reduce conflict and promote open communication in your retrospectives.

How can I, as a Scrum Master, supercharge my facilitation?

Retrospectives, planning sessions, vision workshops, we are continuously helping teams learn about how to collaborate in practice! In this Actionable Agile Tools book, Jeff Campbell shares some of the tools he’s learned over a decade of coaching Agile Teams. The pragmatic coaching book you need, right now! Buy Actionable Agile Tools on Amazon, or directly from the author, and supercharge your facilitation toolbox!

About Rebecca Cyr

Rebecca Cyr is an experienced agile coach and scrum master, passionate about helping teams deliver value through agile principles and practices while learning, growing, and having fun together. Connecting people through deft facilitation is her superpower, as is storytelling as the language of learning.

You can link with https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebeccacyr/.

BONUS: Mastering Work Intake For Agile Teams with Tom Cagley and Jeremy Willets

In this BONUS episode, Tom and Jeremy discuss the main ideas from their latest book on agile transformation and work intake management: Mastering Work Intake: From Chaos to Predictable Delivery. They share some of the main the challenges teams face when trying to adopt agile practices and offer practical strategies for improving work intake processes.

The Trigger for the Book

“Most people who try to transform and be agile don’t do it well. They fail multiple times because they say ‘yes’ to everything, which is a lack of control on work intake.”

Tom emphasizes that many teams struggle with agile transformation, often due to poor management of work intake. He has built a career helping teams that have attempted and failed at this multiple times. The main issue is that they end up saying “yes” to every request, leading to a chaotic work environment, lots of work started, and very little finished.

“We got started during the pandemic. We looked at many books on the topic and saw that it wasn’t tackled very well. ‘Actionable Agile’ and ‘Why Limit WIP’ by Jim Benson inspired us.”

Defining Work Intake and avoiding common mistakes

“We are drowning in work. We use metaphors to define work intake and see that work always finds a way to get done. Initially, we titled this book ‘Work Entry’ because of the idea that work is pushed to people, who naturally say ‘yes’ because they want to help.”

“Work has a way of getting started. Recently, I had water in my basement. I didn’t know where it came from, but the water found a way in. We see this over and over at work. Work just gets in, often because saying ‘no’ feels career-limiting.”

Tom likens unmanaged work intake to water leaking into a basement—inevitable and hard to control. This analogy underscores how work finds its way into a team’s backlog, often because rejecting tasks seems risky.

“Jumping the queue is a very common mistake. Important work always gets done, but we don’t always go through the process of identifying what’s truly important. This leads to ‘fast switching’ between tasks and ‘neglected WIP.'”

Tom highlights the mistake of allowing work to bypass proper prioritization, leading to constant context switching, which makes teams slow, and neglected tasks which rarely or never get completed.

“The goal conflict anti-pattern is another issue. Much of work intake is about the relationships that lead to decision-making.”

Jeremy discusses how conflicting goals and poor relationship management can lead to self-defeating work intake processes.

Key Strategies for Managing Work Intake, and Avoiding the Over-Planning Anti-pattern

“In the book, we present patterns to handle intake management and discuss the Product Owner’s (PO) role. The PO is critical for managing work intake in Scrum, requiring discipline from both the PO and the team.”

Jeremy outlines the importance of having a disciplined Product Owner to manage work intake effectively.

“The problem of team design often causes issues. Many teams work on features while supporting systems that deliver value to customers. This lack of focus is problematic. Building a solid DevOps framework is crucial.”

“Agility means flexibility. We need to prioritize and select work more frequently, getting feedback often to determine if the work is necessary. Refer to ‘Lean Startup’ for more insights.”

Jeremy advocates for flexibility and frequent prioritization over rigid, upfront planning.

“Mapping who is involved in work intake decisions is key. Understanding the feedback loop and how it’s integrated into decision-making helps manage work intake better.”

Tom emphasizes the importance of understanding decision-making processes and who are the stakeholders, to be able to improve those processes through collaboration.

Different Types of Work Mean Different Decision Making!

“People work on features, defects, support, etc. Each requires different management patterns. Recognizing team constraints is crucial for effective work intake.”

Tom explains the need for tailored strategies for different types of work, based on team constraints. Only this “whitebox” approach to work management can help us build a work intake process that helps us manage the work in a way that leads to faster deliveries and more productivity.

As an example, Tom and Jeremy share a story about a company wanting to move to the cloud. Unfortunately, the CEO’s decision overlooked the engineers’ lack of skills, which led to big problems. This story puts emphasis on the importance of aligning work intake with team capabilities.

A Top Tip: Be Mindful and Deliberate About Accepting Work Into Your Backlog!

“We help teams be deliberate about work acceptance by emphasizing relationships and decision-making processes. Effective work intake management reduces disruptions.”

Tips For Product Owners

“Manage work intake across the entire product. It’s more than just planning.” 

“PO is an active role. Help the team make decisions and sequence work.”

Tips For Scrum Masters

“Don’t overlook work intake. Involvement in this aspect is crucial to avoid anti-patterns.” “Defend team boundaries to control work intake.”

The Impact of Applying These Ideas

“It would be a lot calmer and more orderly.”

“We would get a lot more things done, avoiding the anti-pattern of rewarding work starts over finishes.”

About Tom and Jeremy

Tom Cagley is an experienced agile coach and consultant specializing in helping teams manage work intake and improve their agile practices.

You can link with Tom Cagley on LinkedIn. You can also listen to Tom’s podcast, the SPAMCast.

Jeremy Willets is a seasoned agile practitioner and author who has collaborated with Tom on numerous projects, including this book.

You can link with Jeremy Willets on LinkedIn.

Doug Rabow: Continuous Feedback As A Forcing Function For Focus, and Productivity in Agile Teams

The Great Product Owner: Continuous Feedback As A Forcing Function For Focus, and Productivity in Agile Teams

Highlighting the characteristics of an extraordinary Product Owner, Doug shows the importance of questioning, transparency, and customer collaboration in that role. This episode also shows how great Product Owners manage to maintain clarity and progress amidst project uncertainty, and offers insights into practices that promote continuous feedback and adaptive project management.

The Bad Product Owner: The Perils of Isolation, A Product Owner Anti-Pattern That Derails Agile Teams

Doug shares what can happen when the  Product Owner works in isolation. Doug also explains how this approach can derail team progress. Learn about the crucial role of collaboration and problem definition in the Product Owner’s responsibilities.

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 Doug Rabow

Doug is a passionate practitioner of Lean-Agile strategic management with a focus on developing empowered teams and Lean process improvement.

You can link with Doug Rabow on LinkedIn.

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Get These Valuable Lessons Today!
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
NEW! FREE Product Owner Mini-Summit
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.
NEW! FREE Product Owner Mini-Summit
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.