The Product Owner Summit call for sessions is live. Submit your session now!

I want to submit a session!

The Product Owner Sprint Checklist: A Tool to Help you Deal With an Overly Busy or Absent PO

The overly busy or absent Product Owner is a common anti-pattern in agile organizations.

This can have serious consequences for the teams we work with as Scrum Masters.

Additionally, Product Owners that are spread too thin may not even have time to be in the Scrum meetings because they serve many teams or handle several products, or because they have so many other meetings with C-level, or other stakeholders. Missing critical Scrum meetings (e.g. Sprint Review, Sprint Planning, Grooming) will quickly lead to a de-motivated team, as well as lack of trust and potential conflict between the team and the Product Owner. In my own experience, when the Product Owner starts missing critical Scrum meetings, the team will quickly start asking: “why do we even do these meetings”, which quickly leads to the meetings being dropped.

How do we help our Product Owners overcome these challenges? Read on…

Continue reading The Product Owner Sprint Checklist: A Tool to Help you Deal With an Overly Busy or Absent PO

How to help the PO be involved with the Scrum team, even if the PO does not have time

The Product Owner (PO) is a tough role to fill. Product Owners are torn between users, senior management, team and other stakeholders that they need to attend to.
While the team is working on completing the backlog items, the PO is probably meeting with the Director of Product to agree on a roadmap; with the CEO to hear about the latest ideas he got from visiting a client; trying to meet with the user research group to understand better the customer; reporting status to the head of Project Management; and still needs to visit the Sprint Planning, Backlog Grooming, Demo and the occasional daily meeting to answer questions from the team. And let’s not forget the email backlog!
With all of these tasks one has to ask: do we believe a single person can do this all alone? What I describe here is not even rare! We seem to collectively think that the Product Owner is a super-hero!


Given all of these tasks, it is little wonder that the PO’s end up struggling to even manage the JIRA tickets the teams ask them to review, give feedback on, and prioritize.

The feeling of overwhelm is common in Product Owners. They ask themselves if they are spending their time on the right things. Wouldn’t you, if you got constantly interrupted by questions and requests from others? How do we solve this, increase collaboration between Team and Product Owner, and improve our work place at the same time? Read on for more…
Continue reading How to help the PO be involved with the Scrum team, even if the PO does not have time

BONUS: Barry O’Reilly on What is Hypothesis-driven Development, and why that matters for Agilists

EXTRA BONUS: to get 30% off Barry’s Hypothesis-Driven Development course you can go to www.leanagile.study  and use discount code THIRTYCPOFF before the end of December 2017.

Far too many companies act as if Product Development was a shopping trip: they get a list of things to “buy”, typically Features. Then they create documents explaining that shopping list: Roadmaps, Backlogs, PowerPoint presentations, Post-its on walls, you name it. And then they execute. Here’s the thing: if you act as if Product Development is a shopping trip all you will do is spend a lot of money and get lots of Features you don’t really need.

Barry suggests we treat Product Development differently. He calls it Hypothesis-Driven Development (HDD for short) and includes:

  1. Leadership set an outcome (not a task!) Example: how to increase conversion by 10%
  2. Look for observations: where you try to understand what is happening in the product and to the product you develop.
  3. Set a hypothesis to validate ideas: where you make assumptions and write those down as assumptions. Assumptions should be about how to reach the goal set in step 1.
  4. Create simple experiments: actions that drive results, which you will compare with the hypothesis you created in 3.
  5. Gather the data, learn and repeat: the core process is LEARNING. Therefore, spend enough time on this step so that you generate new observations, insights. Then repeat the cycle.

A fundamental shift in product development

Barry claims that HDD is a fundamental shift in product development. The shift is from doing many things, many small changes, and switches to focusing on outcomes, on results to the business. This means that leadership is no longer accountable for the work, but for the outcomes. And this frees the teams to focus on self-organizing to reach those outcomes, instead of following a list of things that others have dictated.

We go from investing in work to investing in learning. We might use Innovation Accounting, à lá #LeanStartup, or focus on creating Options and benefit from the concept of Optionality popularized by Nassim Taleb in his famous Black Swan book, but also referred to in Commitment, the book by Agile Coaches Chris Matts and Olav Maassen. This different focus will completely change your product development process to maximize the information generated and help you find new avenues for growth in your product.

We don’t do Projects anymore, we run Experiments!

As a result of the shift towards HDD, we stop focusing on big-bang, all-in projects and focus on running smaller experiments that drive the learning that will eventually generate the outcomes we defined. As Barry says in this episode: we go from 1 to 2 experiments per year (projects) to testing many more ideas every month.

But you can’t run that many experiments with the same approach to funding, and management that you used when you ran projects. So we focus on a different management paradigm that Barry explains further. The goal: learn and adapt faster, not produce more features.

As part of that, we need to get familiar with the concept of safe-to-fail experiments that can reliably generate knowledge without causing chaos or confusion in our product development process.

And it all starts with a simple change in product development: define the problem you are trying to fix, not the solution you are trying to create.

If I want to know more about the Hypothesis-Driven Development approach, where should I start?

 

If you want to generate options you may try Teresa Torres ‘Opportunity Tree’ which is a great tool for generating experiment options to test hypotheses https://www.producttalk.org/2016/08/opportunity-solution-tree/

 

About Barry O’Reilly

Barry O’Reilly is a business advisor, entrepreneur, and author who has pioneered the intersection of business model innovation, product development, organizational design, and culture transformation.

Barry works with business leaders and teams from global organizations that seek to invent the future, not fear it. Every day, Barry works with many of the world’s leading companies to break the vicious cycles that spiral businesses toward death by enabling experimentation and learning to unlock the insights required for better decision making and higher performance and results.

Barry is the co-author of the international bestseller Lean Enterprise: How High-Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale—included in the Eric Ries Lean series, and a Harvard Business Review must-read for CEOs and business leaders.

You can link with Barry O’Reilly on LinkedIn and connect with Barry O’Reilly on Twitter.

You can also contact Barry O’Reilly through his site, and sign up for his newsletter to get the latest news about Hypothesis-Driven Development.

EXTRA BONUS: to get 30% off Barry’s course you can go to www.leanagile.study  and use discount code THIRTYCPOFF before the end of December.

20 TOP Agile Blogs for Scrum Masters that you will not (easily) find on google searches (2017 edition)

Click to learn more about how you can help your PO

Before reading the post, I wanted to share with you a great interview about how we, as Scrum Masters are always starting from Scratch (just like new year! 🙂 Here’s a Podcast episode as a new year gift from the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast archive built over the last 3 years interviewing Scrum Masters from all over the world.

Podcast Topic: We start a new with every team  (interview with Lucian Stroie)

Now for the list! 🙂

Here in the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast, we share insights and inspiring stories from Scrum Masters every day of the week because we believe we need inspiration and ideas every day. Therefore we also visit sites and blogs for the same reasons. To end the year with a bang, I wanted to create a list of Top blogs / Sites for Scrum Masters. Was I in for a disappointment… read on to know why…

Continue reading 20 TOP Agile Blogs for Scrum Masters that you will not (easily) find on google searches (2017 edition)

Product Owner Anti-Patterns, and how Scrum Masters can help overcome those

Product Owners have an impossible job! I know, I’ve been a Product Owner. And even worse, a Product Manager transitioning to Product Owner! And even worse! I was also the Project Manager. Geeez! When I look back I am amazed I survived that phase of my career.

Here’s the kicker, that was the best time of my Agile adoption journey. I got to see my ideas come to life so quickly! And have a concrete business impact (the product we delivered went on to generate 10 Million Eur in sales a little over 3 years).

My Product Owner journey towards Agile was not easy! Let me tell you how I survived that stressful time, and lived on to learn a lot from the experience.

Continue reading Product Owner Anti-Patterns, and how Scrum Masters can help overcome those

Get The Booklet!
How to deliver on time and eliminate scope creep By scoping projects around outcomes and impacts, not requirements!
Get the Product Owner Booklet!
Avoid scope creep! And learn to scope projects around impacts and outcomes, not requirements!
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