My fellow Agile Avenger, Danis, and I were recently asked to step out of our comfort zones and take on roles as interim Product Owners for two very different squads. Mine – a marketing squad responsible for delivering the strategy, comms, and digital journeys for retention. Danis’s – an engineering squad looking after a key area of the digital sales channel.
Despite us already having a strong understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a PO, it’s fair to say the experience was an incredible learning curve. So, here are our 5 learnings from being a Product Owner. If you’d like to hear more about how we got on, including our highs and lows check out our vlog here.
There will always be ‘nice to haves’ in the backlog, however, will they actually drive value? Teams get bombarded with work all the time, and as the PO it is your job to protect the productivity of the team, the backlog, and ensure that work being delivered is maximising the value of the product.
Saying no to external requests and incoming work is OK if you have good reason to, or data/logic to validate why you are saying no. It helps to refine the art of saying no to your different stakeholders as well, just to soften the blow….
This is vital for picking up early signs of burn out, low morale and well being before it severely impacts the team. The more time you spend with the team, the better you will get at reading their emotions. Make the most of stand ups, sprint reviews and retros to gauge how your team are really doing. If you have time to, set up 121s with each member too.
You never know when you are going to need support from another team, and who will decide if they can support and when? Their product owner! Build all these relationships from the start – share learnings, invite them to sprint reviews, offer support where you have capacity, and have those tea breaks together in the kitchen! It’s not always about work, so encourage inter department comradery as well. This will help create a positive working environment for all.
Stepping into the PO role for a new team can be a little daunting, reglardless of your experience level. Make sure you are kind to yourself throughout your journey. Here’s what we recommend:
Danis and I were thrown into the world of being Product Owners, and we both managed to learn so much in a short period. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, and we would both love to do it again on a more permanent basis. We realise every Product Owner will have their own stories to share, so we would love to hear from you! Let us know if you can relate to our 5 learnings, and if you have any other advice to offer the Agile Avengers community.
Enjoyed this blog post? It is also available in our signature comic strip style for easy reading and sharing. View and download the pdf here.
Kat's background in eCommerce and marketing enables her to bring unique perspective and digital knowhow. Working for various multinational enterprises/industries has developed her drive to better understand what people want, develop what's right for them and deliver this in an effective way.
Kat thrives in environments that promote collaboration and trust, and has experienced firsthand the positive impact of Agile working on people and products. By making these tools readily available, she wants everyone to have the freedom to lead, innovate and achieve what they set out to achieve.
SUPERPOWERS | Turning stats into actions. Super focus. Breaking into song.
KRYPTONITE | Forecasting with no context. Drupal UI. Poor poker face.
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