In my time as a Scrum Master and Coach it was always very clear to me that my objective was helps teams to improve, providing them with training, tools and techniques to make themselves more effective over time and eventually make myself redundant in the process. I’m about to move into a Product Management role and this got me thinking about the objectives for that role in an Agile team.
In some teams the Product Manager/Owner can be seen as the person who creates user stories and tells the teams in what order to attack the product backlog, however should a vested and well experienced development team be able to decide in what order to create the product and sprint backlogs if the Vision and Strategy for the product is clear? if customer research, competitor analysis and industry trends are gathered and shared? if the team is actively involved in focus groups and customer testing and interviews.
Product ownership for me can perhaps be abused, all decisions devolved to the single person in the team, it can also perhaps breed egos in some POs who now have an awful lot of autonomy.
I think that everyone in an agile team should consider attempting to make themselves a least a little bit more redundant. If we can train others, share knowledge, automate manual low value tasks then it means we can spend our time doing even more interesting things.
Once we become reliant on individuals we leave ourselves open to inefficiency and blockers, if the PO isn’t available or leaves the company could the team confidently soldier on delivering value towards a clear and inspiring vision?
As product managers it’s crucial that we motivate and inspire our teams to deliver amazing products solving customer problems. We need to ensure that our product and vision and strategy relate to the overall business vision and the measures of success are clear and that we communicate priorities, progress and risks clearly to our stakeholders.
So always question as a PO am I making a decision that anyone else in the team could make or am I just doing it because i’m the all powerful PO?
Live long and Agile.