Product Managers, Product Owners,
and Scalable Models for
Agile Product Teams
1
© 2014. This presentation and all derivati...
About Rich Mironov
•  Veteran product manager/exec/strategist
•  Business models, agile, organizing product teams
•  6 sta...
Agenda
1.  Product Managers ≠ Product Owners
2.  Failure Modes
3.  Small and Large
Organizational Maps
3
Organizational Context
•  “Product manager” is a job title
•  “Product owner” is an agile team role
•  Overlapping, but ve...
What Does a Product Manager Do?
For revenue software…
•  Drives delivery and market
acceptance of whole products
•  Target...
What Does a Product Manager Do?
market information, priorities,
requirements, roadmaps, epics,
user stories, backlogs,
per...
Product Management: Inherently Political
•  Logic and facts are not sufficient
•  Sales teams get paid for
closing individ...
What PM Hiring Managers Want
Tech product manager job postings
•  76% want 3+ years PM experience
•  93% want excellent ve...
Agile Methodology with Scrum
9
Product
Backlog
Features &
User Stories
Release
Backlog
Features &
User Stories
Sprint
Back...
What does a Product Owner Do?
•  …represents the customer’s interest in backlog
prioritization and requirements questions....
Feeding the Agile Beast
Steam engine “fireman”
needs to constantly shovel
coal, otherwise the train
will stop
11
‘small p’ Product Owner
12
backlog, priorities,
epics, user stories,
personas, demo feedback
Markets &
Customers
Developme...
PO/PM Scope
13
Product
Backlog
Features &
User Stories
Release
Backlog
Features &
User Stories
Sprint
Backlog
User Stories...
Product Manager Has More Levers
•  Engineering Output
•  Product features
•  Order of delivery
•  Product / Market / Busin...
Agenda
1.  Product Managers ≠ Product Owners
2.  Failure Modes
3.  Small and Large
Organizational Maps
15
Product Management: Oversubscribed,
Overcommitted, Burning Out
•  Most product management teams
are already understaffed
•...
How Development Organizations
Typically Pick Product Owners
•  SMEs with technical chops,
story writing experience,
“alrea...
Product Management Failure Mode
Product Manager fails agile team when…
•  Part-timer, not engaged with team
•  Lack of det...
Product Owner Failure Modes
Product Owner fails markets when…
•  Weak on market realities: pricing,
packaging, selling cyc...
Agenda
1.  Product Managers ≠ Product Owners
2.  Failure Modes
3.  Small and Large
Organizational Maps
20
Minimal PM/PO “Organization”
21
VP or Founders
Heroic Single
Product Manager/Owner
more technical more market-focused
“man...
Dysfunctional PO/PM Organization
22
VP Eng
Product
Owners
VP Marketing
Product
Managers
more technical more market-focused...
PM/PO Product Peers
23
PM Director/
Product Strategist
GM / VP Eng / VP Products / CPO
more technical more market-focused
...
PM/PO: Market Mentoring
24
GM / VP Eng / VP Products / CPO
more technical more market-focused
Product
Owner
Senior Product...
90 Person Project (1 Product, 8 Teams)
25
Product
Manager
TEAM
PO
SM
TEAM
PO
SM
TEAM
PO
SM
TEAM
PO
SM
TEAM
PO
SM
TEAM
PO
S...
What Does Each Team Do?
26
Product
Manager
HEADLINE FEATURES PERFORMANCE
RE-ARCH
DRIVERS &
CONNECTORS
UX/UI
TEAM
PO
SM
TEA...
Right Product Owners?
27
Lead Prod
Manager
PERFORMANCE
RE-ARCH
DRIVERS &
CONNECTORS
UX/UI
TEAM
SM
TEAM
SM
TEAM
SM
TEAM
SM
...
Wrong Product Owners!
28
PERFORMANCE
RE-ARCH
DRIVERS &
CONNECTORS
UX/UI
TEAM
SM
TEAM
SM
TEAM
SM
TEAM
SM
TEAM
SM
TEAM
SM
TE...
Delegating Product Ownership
•  No cookie-cutter solution, no magic formula
•  Varies with scope, teams, technical depth, ...
Takeaways
1.  Must fully staff product owner roles
•  Not a sideline, not an add-on, not an afterthought
2.  On large proj...
Rich Mironov
Mironov Consulting
233 Franklin Street, Suite 308
San Francisco, CA 94102
31
/in/RichMironov
@RichMironov
Ric...
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Scaling up product manager/product owner organizations

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This talk identifies that product ownership AND product management are both critical to success of commercial agile software companies; that they are NOT identical, but strongly overlapped; and that selecting/hiring/training/managing/organizing a product team team is very necessary. No cookie-cutter algorithms for assigning people to product roles.

Picked by Portland Product Camp attendees as "best of camp," and adapted from a talk I gave for Cisco IPTV on 4 April 2014.

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  • HIPPO: highest paid person’s opinion
    Engineering-driven, purely logical decision-making isn’t enough. Different goals, different opinions, timelines (current quarter), asking for more investigation as a way to veto proposals…
  • It’s not that a product owner is unable to do this much longer list of things. It’s that we don’t choose, train, mentor, measure or reward them for the broader set of things. And we keep them very busy with the short list.
    That’s one of the reasons why agile delivers more/better – because they can finally get enough product ownership to build more of the right things.
  • Huge positive Dev feedback
    8.1 release: how many PMs are there on this effort?
    “User First” is pulling PMs in another direction: more emphasis on customer needs, rather than detailed tech specs
    ENG product managers have $150M to $300M each in product sales. There’s no way they can ignore Cisco sales, marketing and administrative demands. And a ton of customers they are each big enough to deserve special treatment

    I’ve successfully handled all of product management and all of product ownership for one dev team of 11, at a great Bay Area startup. But that was with less corporate overhead, and a lot of experience.
  • TMEs may be good candidates, but they already have more-than-full-time jobs to do closing business.
  • Pulled into exec briefing center, out on sales calls, into planning/management sessions
    Q for devs: how many of expect your PM to reliably be in 80% of your standups?
  • Degenerative case: one person has to do it all. Suck it up.
  • How many POs does this imply for a division with 2500 engineers, likely 250 scrum teams?
    Unworkable: lack of overall product coordination, typical for many PO slots to be unfilled
    Scrum of scrums is primarily to address TECHNICAL issues, TECHNICAL dependencies, TECHNICAL architecture. Not impact on customers and markets of many subtle choices made daily.

  • Unworkable: lack of overall product coordination, typical for many PO slots to be unfilled
    Scrum of scrums is primarily to address TECHNCIAL issues, TECHNICAL dependencies, TECHNICAL architecture. Not impact on customers and markets of many subtle choices made daily.
  • Holding back on determining if one PO can cover two teams. Still shows that we need a PM/PO team of around 6 to handle a project with 8 teams.
  • Negotiate explicit working agreements

    If we have 2500 engineers in the division, that implies ~ 250 scrum teams, ~200 full-time PM+PO. Staying out of the politics of budgets and open reqs (who finds the heads), but someone may be 50 headcount short.
    This entire go-agile (dEV Escape Velocity) effort is at risk if we ignore this problem
  • Scaling up product manager/product owner organizations

    1. 1. Product Managers, Product Owners, and Scalable Models for Agile Product Teams 1 © 2014. This presentation and all derivative works copyright Rich Mironov | mironov.com
    2. 2. About Rich Mironov •  Veteran product manager/exec/strategist •  Business models, agile, organizing product teams •  6 startups as “product guy” or CEO •  Ran first Product Camp, first agile product manager/owner tracks 2
    3. 3. Agenda 1.  Product Managers ≠ Product Owners 2.  Failure Modes 3.  Small and Large Organizational Maps 3
    4. 4. Organizational Context •  “Product manager” is a job title •  “Product owner” is an agile team role •  Overlapping, but very different scope and skills •  “One-per-scrum-team” does not match complexity of large-scale commercial software •  Work has to get done, regardless of title 4
    5. 5. What Does a Product Manager Do? For revenue software… •  Drives delivery and market acceptance of whole products •  Targets market segments, not individual customers 5
    6. 6. What Does a Product Manager Do? market information, priorities, requirements, roadmaps, epics, user stories, backlogs, personas, MRDs… product bits strategy, forecasts, commitments, roadmaps, competitive intelligence… budgets, staff, targets field input, market feedback segmentation, messages, benefits/features, pricing, qualification, demos… Markets & Customers Development Marketing& Sales Executives Product Management 6
    7. 7. Product Management: Inherently Political •  Logic and facts are not sufficient •  Sales teams get paid for closing individual deals •  Regional and vertical groups focus on their narrow needs •  HIPPO •  Responsibility without authority •  Keep the process moving 7
    8. 8. What PM Hiring Managers Want Tech product manager job postings •  76% want 3+ years PM experience •  93% want excellent verbal and written communication skills •  93% want a BS (68% prefer CS/EE) •  32% want MBAs •  88% want experience in their segment 8
    9. 9. Agile Methodology with Scrum 9 Product Backlog Features & User Stories Release Backlog Features & User Stories Sprint Backlog User Stories Potentially releasable software Software release Accepted story (“DONE”) Review Demo, feedback Retrospective Process improvement 1 day Daily Standup Sprint: 1 to 3 weeks No changes in duration or goal Release planning Sprint planning Charter Release Retrospective Process improvement N sprints
    10. 10. What does a Product Owner Do? •  …represents the customer’s interest in backlog prioritization and requirements questions... available to the team at any time. •  Provides intense sprint-level focus: stories, backlog, prioritization, acceptance •  One product owner per team, not per product •  Wins development admiration and inclusion •  Feeds the hungry agile beast 10
    11. 11. Feeding the Agile Beast Steam engine “fireman” needs to constantly shovel coal, otherwise the train will stop 11
    12. 12. ‘small p’ Product Owner 12 backlog, priorities, epics, user stories, personas, demo feedback Markets & Customers Development Marketing& Sales Executives Product Owner showcase customers
    13. 13. PO/PM Scope 13 Product Backlog Features & User Stories Release Backlog Features & User Stories Sprint Backlog User Stories Potentially releasable software Software release Accepted story (“DONE”) Review Demo, feedback Retrospective Process improvement 1 day Daily Standup Sprint: 1 to 3 weeks No changes in duration or goal Release planning Sprint planning Charter Release Retrospective Process improvement N sprints product manager focus product owner focus
    14. 14. Product Manager Has More Levers •  Engineering Output •  Product features •  Order of delivery •  Product / Market / Business Model •  Pricing •  Competitive positioning •  Partners and Channels •  Services and Support •  Fit with corporate strategy •  Product split, merge or EOL 14 Product manager After: Greg Cohen Product owner
    15. 15. Agenda 1.  Product Managers ≠ Product Owners 2.  Failure Modes 3.  Small and Large Organizational Maps 15
    16. 16. Product Management: Oversubscribed, Overcommitted, Burning Out •  Most product management teams are already understaffed •  Product ownership adds 40-60% more critical work •  Urgency of stories, backlog grooming, sprint planning, standups, acceptance •  One product manager can “do it all” for a single team •  But typical Dev:PM ratio is 35:1, not 10:1 16
    17. 17. How Development Organizations Typically Pick Product Owners •  SMEs with technical chops, story writing experience, “already know” the market •  Rarely demand market-side experience •  Undervalue organizational blocking skills •  Belief in rational/unemotional/technical customers •  Slant toward smartest users 17
    18. 18. Product Management Failure Mode Product Manager fails agile team when… •  Part-timer, not engaged with team •  Lack of detail on stories •  Stale backlog •  Handwaving and bluster •  Best of intentions, but pulled in too many directions •  “Build what I meant” 18
    19. 19. Product Owner Failure Modes Product Owner fails markets when… •  Weak on market realities: pricing, packaging, selling cycle, upgrades, discounting, competitive dynamics •  Disconnected from Marketing, Sales, Support •  Trades off company strategy for product features •  Sees showcase customers as typical 19
    20. 20. Agenda 1.  Product Managers ≠ Product Owners 2.  Failure Modes 3.  Small and Large Organizational Maps 20
    21. 21. Minimal PM/PO “Organization” 21 VP or Founders Heroic Single Product Manager/Owner more technical more market-focused “management”
    22. 22. Dysfunctional PO/PM Organization 22 VP Eng Product Owners VP Marketing Product Managers more technical more market-focused “management”
    23. 23. PM/PO Product Peers 23 PM Director/ Product Strategist GM / VP Eng / VP Products / CPO more technical more market-focused “management”
    24. 24. PM/PO: Market Mentoring 24 GM / VP Eng / VP Products / CPO more technical more market-focused Product Owner Senior Product Manager “management”
    25. 25. 90 Person Project (1 Product, 8 Teams) 25 Product Manager TEAM PO SM TEAM PO SM TEAM PO SM TEAM PO SM TEAM PO SM TEAM PO SM TEAM POSM TEAM PO SM
    26. 26. What Does Each Team Do? 26 Product Manager HEADLINE FEATURES PERFORMANCE RE-ARCH DRIVERS & CONNECTORS UX/UI TEAM PO SM TEAM PO SM TEAM PO SM TEAM PO SM TEAM PO SM TEAM PO SM TEAM POSM TEAM PO SM
    27. 27. Right Product Owners? 27 Lead Prod Manager PERFORMANCE RE-ARCH DRIVERS & CONNECTORS UX/UI TEAM SM TEAM SM TEAM SM TEAM SM TEAM SM TEAM SM TEAM SM Product Mgr? HEADLINE FEATURES TEAMSM UX Lead? Sales Eng? Two Performance Architects?
    28. 28. Wrong Product Owners! 28 PERFORMANCE RE-ARCH DRIVERS & CONNECTORS UX/UI TEAM SM TEAM SM TEAM SM TEAM SM TEAM SM TEAM SM TEAM SM UX Lead HEADLINE FEATURES TEAMSM Sales Eng Perf Arch Product Mgr Lead Prod Manager
    29. 29. Delegating Product Ownership •  No cookie-cutter solution, no magic formula •  Varies with scope, teams, technical depth, skills… •  What is this team working on? Who brings right talent mix? •  Full-time product owners, not borrowed 10% •  Solid or strong dotted line to product management •  Vigorous daily discussion among product team •  Product management keeps whole-product responsibility 29
    30. 30. Takeaways 1.  Must fully staff product owner roles •  Not a sideline, not an add-on, not an afterthought 2.  On large projects, product managers are not default product owners for every team 3.  Need to thoughtfully select/hire/train POs and PMs 4.  IMHO, cookie-cutter assignments endanger products 30
    31. 31. Rich Mironov Mironov Consulting 233 Franklin Street, Suite 308 San Francisco, CA 94102 31 /in/RichMironov @RichMironov Rich@Mironov.com +1-650-315-7394
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