Luís Santos Silva: ​​Helping teams succeed, a key task for the Scrum Product Owner

The Great Product Owner: Helping teams succeed, a key task for the PO

As Luís puts it: “We underestimate how hard it is to be a PO”, which is one more reason to be happy when we get to work with an example Product Owner. We should be highlighting, and talking a lot more about how to become a great PO, because it is so difficult! Luís shares how this PO worked with the team to tackle their biggest challenge: long time to release. The PO understood that, and helped the team remove work from each release for the team to be able to release in time. 

In this segment, we talk about the Opportunity Solution tree by Teresa Torres (check this podcast episode with Teresa), which borrows from a Theory Of Constraints tool: the current reality tree.

The Bad Product Owner: The PO that was afraid to own the problems to be solved

When we look at Product Owner related anti-patterns, we should be aware that many of those are usually “systemic”, in other words, they usually originate from other areas of the company. In this segment, we talk about the PO’s that are afraid to own the problems the product is supposed to solve. They stick only to the backlog of stories, and miss the big picture. The second, critical, anti-pattern we discuss is forgetting about “outcomes”, and instead focusing on functionality. Luís suggests that we should help PO’s focus on goals first, so that outcomes are not forgotten.

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 Luís Santos Silva

Luís is not your typical Agile Coach as he doesn’t have an IT background. He worked his way from a contact center up to Lean and Agile Coach and is now a Agile Coach team lead at OutSystems.

You can link with Luís Santos Silva on LinkedIn

Bevan Williams: From Absent to Awesome! A Product Owner transformation story

The Great Product Owner: From Absent to Awesome! A PO transformation story

This Product Owner was absent at first. A common anti-pattern for PO’s. The PO was spread over 5 teams. That’s when Bevan got together with the PO and asked: “how do we solve this together?” Listen in to learn how this PO went from being absent, to being a great PO with the help of Bevan! 

In this segment, we refer to intent based leadership by David Marquet, who’s been a guest on the podcast. 

The Bad Product Owner: Solving the absent PO anti-pattern.

This Product Owner was often absent, a common anti-pattern in larger organizations. To make it even harder, this PO was only assigned to the role part-time. The team was sorely missing answers that would help them progress. What can we do in these situations? Bevan shares some of the solutions he’s tried to solve the Absent PO anti-pattern. 

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 Bevan Williams

Bevan is an Agile Coach & Trainer at Think Agile. His career has been driven by his passion of creating inclusive environments where people can be at their best. 

You can link with Bevan Williams on LinkedIn and connect with Bevan Williams on Twitter.

Pratik Dahule: How to help a Product Owner bring the right amount of work to a Scrum team

The Great Product Owner: Present and thorough, two great PO qualities

This Product Owner had the customer and end users in mind, and was very thorough in their preparation of the stories. The PO was present at all times and helped the team during refinement. This helped the team understand the scope, and break down enough the stories and epics they had to work on. 

The Bad Product Owner: How to help a PO bring the right amount of work to a team

When Product Owners force teams to take on more work, that’s never a good sign. And this PO was no exception to that rule. Additionally, the PO seemed unaware of how much they had already asked the team to take on, leading the team to burn out, and to have quality problems. Pratik understood that this anti-pattern had to stop, and he explains how he helped the PO and the stakeholders to find a new way of working with the team. In this segment, we also refer to User Story Mapping, a technique all Scrum Masters should bring to their work!

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 Pratik Dahule

Pratik is an Agile Project Manager and Agile enthusiast working in the USA. He leads teams and creates a culture of lifelong learning, constant collaboration and continuous improvement. Pratik has 12 years of experience and is passionate about helping teams in their agile transformation. Outside of work, he has a blogging site ClassactLifestyle.com where he shares insights on books and exotic places to travel.

You can link with Pratik Dahule on LinkedIn

Daniel Lutz: The Product Owner as a Visionary, and a great team leader

The Great Product Owner: The PO as a Visionary, and a great team leader

When a Product Owner is able to define and communicate a Vision for the product, and the impact it brings to the customer, this is a Visionary Product Owner. Great PO’s look into the future, but are also able to be present with the team and help them solve day-to-day issues. In this story, we also talk about the importance of involving the team in communication with the stakeholders, and helps the team feel as responsible as the PO themselves for the success of the product. 

The Bad Product Owner: The dishonest, and absent Product Owner

This particular Product Owner was not honest with the stakeholders. They promised something to the stakeholders, even if that was not what was agreed with the team. They focused on “looking good”, but not spending time with the team. Combined with their day-to-day absence from the team, this created a failure-spiral. 

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 Daniel Lutz

Daniel is an organizational agile coach, working full time at a leading European Energy company, scaling agile with around 30 agile teams. After years in Marketing departments, he realized how much more impact he can have as a Scrum Master by empowering people and building cross-functional teams. He also works part-time as a freelance coach and business consultant helping clients on building high performing teams.

You can link with Daniel Lutz on LinkedIn and connect with Daniel Lutz on Twitter.

Luis Carvalho: What leads to a break-up between a Scrum team and their Product Owner?

The Great Product Owner: The PO that protected the team, and focused on the product, not the process

A new PO came along to this team, and the contrast with the previous PO was huge. The new PO was a product-led person. Did not focus too much on the process, but relied on the team and Scrum Master to help with that. This PO focused on setting the direction and helping the team with decisions, and had a specific superpower that helped the team greatly: he kept the time pressure away from the team.

The Bad Product Owner: The break-up between team and PO

This Product Owner did not see himself as part of the team. This led to some anti-patterns, such as the PO treating the team as a “provider”, and focusing on writing and “sending” requirements to the team. This led to difficulties in communication, such as during refinement sessions and eventually led to a practical break-up between the PO and the team. From this story, Luis took a critical lesson. 

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 Luis Carvalho

Luis is an enthusiast for all things related with organizations, teams, structures and ways of working. He has been working in large scale consumer products for most of his professional life, worked with people of many backgrounds, cultures and locations and made many friends in the process. He loves traveling, food and getting to know people.

You can link with Luis Carvalho on LinkedIn.

Nick Nielsen: The Product Owner that knew how to nurture an Agile culture in the team

The Great Product Owner: The PO that knew how to nurture an Agile culture in the team

This Product Owner had a clear willingness to learn, and to accept a new role that was new to them. Through that, the PO was able to help build an agile culture, a culture of “being agile” instead of “doing agile”. In this episode, we hear how a team is an ecosystem and has its own culture that needs to be nurtured by the Scrum Master, and the Product Owner.

The Bad Product Owner: When the PO’s lose focus on value, a PO anti-pattern

This PO was not able to focus on the value the team was helping to create. When this anti-pattern happens, then the team ends up being focused on “just doing the work”, and is not able to bring their technology perspective into the creation of a clear value, or impact on the user. 

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 Nick Nielsen

Nick completed his education at Aarhus University in Denmark and currently works in the Digital Organisation at Grundfos, the worlds biggest pump manufacturer. He views him self as a pragmatic Agile Handyman.

You can link with Nick Nielsen on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Nielsen on Twitter.

Lorna Mason & Jon Lawrence: The company culture that destroyed a Product Owner’s chance for success

The Great Product Owner: The team player PO

Great Product Owners engage with the team, and take part in helping form the team. They take responsibility over helping teams succeed. They share their Vision with the team, and welcome feedback and questions. They are prepared for meetings and both respect and are respected by the team. 

The Bad Product Owner: The company culture that destroyed a Product Owner’s chance for success

When the team feels cut-off from the Product Owner decisions, and work, they can either help or understand the PO’s decisions. If on top of this the PO skips ceremonies, we have the conditions for a conflict, and lack of collaboration. In this segment, we also talk about the type of company culture that drives Product Owners to disregard the team collaboration aspects of their work.

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 Lorna Mason & Jon Lawrence

Lorna Mason and Jon Lawrence are both agilists working in an insurance scale-up based in Brighton. Their journey to agile has walked a less ‘traditional’ path of Change Management and Continuous Improvement, to Scrum Master, Delivery Manager and Agile Coach; (proving not EVERY Scrum Master needs to code!). They hold the firm belief that you can be a successful Scrum Master as long as you genuinely care about people and value first; and hold a profound desire to always make things better!

You can link with Lorna Mason on LinkedIn

You can link with Jon Lawrence on LinkedIn.

Usman Kotwal: How to help a “hands-off” PO to engage more with the Scrum team

The Great Product Owner: The empowering Product Owner

This PO was in her first job as a Product Owner. Still, she had a natural sense for how to work with the team. Using both of her technical and business experience, she brought a mix of skills and a curious mentality that sparked great collaboration with the team. 

Another great sign, was when she asked Usman to be the Scrum Master for that team (which was missing one), and worked with him to help the team. To start with, she recognized her presence was important, and when she realized she had too much on her plate, she actively started sharing work with Usman, the Scrum Master.

Through her work and attitude, she was able to make the team feel both responsible and empowered!

The Bad Product Owner: How to help a “hands-off” PO to engage more with the Scrum team

This Product Owner was very hands-off. The PO was working with a team from a consultancy, which had their own “shadow PO”. This only made the situation worse, as the Product Owner did not feel responsible for the success of the team (as the team was “external”), and wanted the “shadow PO” to solve all the problems, with very little information or interaction. 

In this segment, we also discuss what Scrum Masters can do to help “hands-off” PO’s to feel more responsible and engage more with the teams.

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 Usman Kotwal

Usman is a Scrum Master and Agile Coach in the field of data analytics in life sciences. He considers his learning journey to continue forever when it comes to bringing forward change in the ways we work collaboratively. His mission is to help guide the way to empowered product teams.

You can link with Usman Kotwal on LinkedIn

Jan Neudecker: The anti-collaborator Product Owner

The Great Product Owner: The decision maker that saw themselves as an ally to the team

Great product owners don’t necessarily start with a long experience in the PO role. The example Jan shares with us is a person that had a senior position in the company, but did not have experience as a Product Owner. Yet, this PO had a sense for the team’s space and allowed the team to make decisions on their own. When his decision was necessary, he was ready to make that decision “on the spot”, to help the team move forward, and he never blamed the team for something he would have decided. This PO was a real ally to the team. 

The Bad Product Owner: The anti-collaborator PO

When PO’s don’t collaborate, or don’t want to collaborate with the team, and see themselves as an outside entity, they end up destroying the team’s ability to perform. In this segment, we also discuss how the communication style of this PO led the team to feel powerless, leading to a worse product in the end. 

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 Jan Neudecker

Jan is an Agile Coach and Trainer. His vision is to make workplaces more humane, enjoyable and purposeful. An unpleasant diagnosis three years ago had a big impact on how he looks at these topics today. It became his mission to get these topics more into the spotlight of teams and organizations so they are less of a taboo subject in future.

You can link with Jan Neudecker on LinkedIn and connect with Jan Neudecker on Twitter.

If you want to know more about Jan’s fight with cancer, you can follow his blog

Jan also organizes a Scrum User Group in Germany.

Sadia Dibbens: The Product Owner anti-pattern that leads to a breakdown in collaboration

The Great Product Owner: Negotiating priorities and knowing when to say “no” 

Great Product Owners are in tune with the team, and their ability to deliver. They help the team by saying “no” to pieces of work that they believe the team is not able to work on at the moment. Another aspect that is critical for PO’s is the ability to negotiate with stakeholders and get to an agreement on priorities and scope. Great PO’s use their people skills to help manage those negotiations and get multiple stakeholders to agree on the right priorities. 

The Bad Product Owner: The PO anti-pattern that leads to a breakdown in collaboration

This PO was a micromanager, wanted to be involved in everything and treated the team as “puppets”. When you add to that the lack of ability to prioritize, then the pressure on the team (and the PO) is so large that the PO is never able to step back to let the team take ownership of the work. Look out for these PO anti-patterns, as they usually come with a panicky sense and ultimately a loss of control, and break down in collaboration. 

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 Sadia Dibbens

Sadia has a long experience in the payments industry, and loves helping teams and individuals. Personally, she likes keeping fit, being involved within the community, and makes sure to put some time aside for volunteering.

You can link with Sadia Dibbens on LinkedIn and connect with Sadia Dibbens on meetup.com.

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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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