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What the Heck Is a

Product Owner?
Ron Lichty, principal, Ron Lichty Consulting

author, Managing the Unmanageable
www.RonLichty.com www.ManagingTheUnmanageable.net1
2
Transforming Chaos to Clarity
Training Leaders & Teams: Agile
1-4 weeks
3
4
Untangling Knots in
Development and Product Teams
Consult:
Untangling the Knots; Making Things Hum
•  process
•  culture
•  communication
•  planning
•  rigor
5
* Addison Wesley6
The Study of Product Team Performance
http://www.ronlichty.com/study.html
7
Ron Lichty,
Managing Development & Product Teams
SOFTWEST
8
So What the Heck’s

a Product Owner?
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 9
Survey
•  Who are you?
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 10
11
We Know Product Owners
Are Part of the Scrum Team
ScrumTeam.jpg (from Exploring Scrum- the Fundamentals, by Dan Rawsthorne & Doug Shimp)
Why Do We Need 3 Roles?
•  team: developers, testers, UX, tech writer
–  building the product
•  Scrum Master
–  helping people work together and be effective
•  Product Owner
–  guiding the product
Product Teams Rely on Product Owners
Engineering is about making
things right.
Product Management is about
making the right things.
—Marty Cagan, author, Inspired
Product Teams Rely on Product Owners
There’s nothing more wasteful
than brilliantly engineering a
product that doesn’t sell,
or a project that
doesn’t matter.
Where Do Product Owners Fit?
Product Management is a huge challenge
Product Owner is a subset of Product Management
Conversations, market information,
priorities, requirements,
roadmaps, epics, user stories,
backlogs, personas…
product
bits
strategy, forecasts,
commitments, roadmaps,
competitive intelligence
budgets, staff,
targets
Field input,
Market feedback
Segmentation, messages,
benefits/features, pricing,
qualification, demos…
Markets &
CustomersDevelopment
Marketing
& Sales
Executives
Product
Management
What Does a Product Manager Do?
www.MIRONOV.com 18
backlog, priorities,
epics, user stories,
personas, demo feedback
product
bits
Markets &
CustomersDevelopment
Marketing
& Sales
Executives
Product
Owner
What Does a Product Owner Do?
www.MIRONOV.com 19
showcase
customers
Product Owner Responsibilities
•  Communicate Product Vision
•  Craft Product Roadmap / Identify 1st project
•  Write Story Cards: high level / customer view
•  Own, order, maintain the Product Backlog
•  Detail Top-of-Backlog Stories / Acceptance Tests
•  Always available to explain stories
•  Decide what to do if product problems arise
•  Ensure the value of work Team performs
•  Perform Acceptance Tests
•  Manage Stakeholders
Prioritize
•  Customers want to know that the team is working on
what will benefit them most
•  Developers want to know they’re working on the stuff
customers will value most!
•  There is no such thing as “2 top priorities”!
•  “If everything is a priority, nothing is a
priority.”
— Sheila Brady, Apple project management guru
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 21
Prioritization: Both Necessary and Hard
•  Speed of ideation far exceeds speed of development
–  the Good Idea Train pulls into the product station every day
with hundreds of “good ideas”
•  Internal demand for engineering always >> supply
•  Inherently political
–  must balance interests of competing stakeholders
•  Responsibility without authority
•  Decisions are only semi-quantitative
•  Must balance deliverables with strategy
–  short term with long term
–  must weight objectives
Product Ownership Is Inherently Political
•  Teams need Product Owners to say ‘no’
•  “Thank you! That’s a really interesting idea. Let me
put it into the backlog.”
•  Never agree without some measure of dev sizing
Product Owner truths
•  Agile stretches product organizations
•  Understaffed: we need 1 PO/team
–  we need 1 PO/team: 1 PO to “do it all” for each agile team
•  Provide product-level vision
•  Build trust, promote cross-functional good will
•  Provide intense sprint-level focus
–  theme, stories, backlog, prioritization, acceptance
•  Provide the heat shield for escalations
•  Available to the team at any time
•  Feed the hungry agile beast
Feeding the Agile Beast
Steam engine
“firemen” need to
shovel coal
constantly,
otherwise the
train will stop
Scrum Team Roles
•  Product Owner: feeds the beast Stories
–  the “what”
•  plus context: the “who” and the “why”
•  team: developers, testers, UX, tech writer
–  the “how”
Engineering Relies on Product Owners
Never tell people 'how' to do things.
Tell them 'what' to do and they will
surprise you with their ingenuity.
—General George S. Patton
Product Owners: Optimize for Value
If you aren’t bargain hunting most items before
you build them, you’re not maximizing the
amount of work not done. Invite the team to
propose 3+ implementation approaches
(e.g. adjust scope, remove bells & whistles)
to find high value at low cost.
—Joshua Kerievsky, CEO, Industrial Logic
The “What” plus the “Who” & “Why”
As a <some kind of user>
I want to <do something>
in order to <accomplish some goal>
Who
What
Why
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 29
Why Include the “Why”
“Building software off just a list of requirements
misses out a lot business context - developers are
told what to do without being told why it's
important. The why often makes a big difference
in doing the what properly.”
--Martin Fowler
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 30
Scrum/Sprint Workflow, labeled
1-4 weeks
Retrospect
Scrum Workflow
Project initiation and planning... -> Development via iterative sprints
Product Owner Roles:
Lead, Participate, Attend, Skip?
•  Story Mapping
•  Story Writing
•  Defining “Done”
•  Story Sizing
•  Story Valuing
•  Backlog Ordering
•  Story Refinement
•  Sprint Planning
•  Daily Standups
•  Retrospectives
Ownership?
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 34
Ownership?
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 35
Ordering Is More than ROI
•  Good user-story ordering is a collaboration with Eng
–  take dependencies into account
–  support risk-first development
•  reduce uncertainty
–  enable design to emerge
–  test architecture
The Backlog Is More than User Stories
•  Technical Product Backlog Items (Technical PBIs)
–  pay down technical debt
–  build foundational stuff / architecture
–  fix outstanding bugs
–  non-functional requirements
–  reduce uncertainty / technical risk
The Backlog Is More than User Stories
•  Technical Product Backlog Items (Technical PBIs)
The deal with engineering goes like this: Product
management takes 20% of the team's capacity right off
the top and gives this to engineering to spend on...
whatever they believe is necessary to avoid ever having
to come to the team and say, 'we need to stop and
rewrite'.... I get nervous when I find teams that think
they can get away with much less than 20%.
--Marty Cagan, Inspired
Sprint Planning
•  Team pulls cards
–  not assigned by anyone: not SM, not PO
•  Goal: a perfect Sprint Plan
–  close with a Fist-to-Five confidence vote
Let Developers Focus
•  Avoid interruptions
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 40
Let Developers Focus
•  Avoid interruptions
•  Prevent mid-sprint tangents
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 41
Let Developers Focus
•  Avoid interruptions
•  Prevent mid-sprint tangents
•  Avoid developer multitasking
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 42
Understand what Motivates Programmers
•  Making a difference…
From Managing the Unmanageable:, by Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty, based on Frederick Herzberg’s seminal work
in the 1950s identifying and differentiating motivators and de-motivators. 43
Share the Big Picture
•  Connect the dots
–  The big picture
–  What each team member is contributing
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 44
In the beginning, everyone will talk about scope,
and budget, and schedule, but in the end,
nobody really cares about any of those things.
The only thing they care about is this:
People will love your software, or they won’t.
So that’s the only criterion to which you
should truly manage.	
—Joseph Kleinschmidt, CTO, now a CEO
* 1 of 300 rules of thumb in the center section of Managing the Unmanageable
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 45
Focus on What Matters*
Ron Lichty Consulting
•  Mentoring, coaching, training, consulting:
–  http://ronlichty.com, Ron@RonLichty.com
•  The book:
Managing the Unmanageable:
Rules, Tools & Insights for Managing Software People & Teams
–  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net <-----tools, excerpts, more rules of thumb
•  Video training:
LiveLessons: Managing Software People and Teams
–  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net/video.html
•  The study:
The Study of Product Team Performance
–  http://ronlichty.com/study.html
•  Training:
The Agile Manager
Managing Software People and Teams
Zero to Agile in Three Days
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 46
Informit.com/lichty
Save 50% on Video Training
•  Use code VIDEO50
Save 35% on Book
•  Use code SWDEV35
•  Good on print, eBooks, and video
•  eBook files include PDF, EPUB, and MOBI
Offer only good at informit.com
47
Ron Lichty Consulting
•  Mentoring, coaching, training, consulting:
–  http://ronlichty.com, Ron@RonLichty.com
•  The book:
Managing the Unmanageable:
Rules, Tools & Insights for Managing Software People & Teams
–  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net <-----tools, excerpts, more rules of thumb
•  Video training:
LiveLessons: Managing Software People and Teams
–  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net/video.html
•  The study:
The Study of Product Team Performance
–  http://ronlichty.com/study.html
•  Training:
The Agile Manager
Managing Software People and Teams
Zero to Agile in Three Days
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 48
Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 49

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What the Heck Is a Product Owner?

  • 1. What the Heck Is a
 Product Owner? Ron Lichty, principal, Ron Lichty Consulting
 author, Managing the Unmanageable www.RonLichty.com www.ManagingTheUnmanageable.net1
  • 3. Training Leaders & Teams: Agile 1-4 weeks 3
  • 5. Consult: Untangling the Knots; Making Things Hum •  process •  culture •  communication •  planning •  rigor 5
  • 7. The Study of Product Team Performance http://www.ronlichty.com/study.html 7
  • 8. Ron Lichty, Managing Development & Product Teams SOFTWEST 8
  • 9. So What the Heck’s
 a Product Owner? Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 9
  • 10. Survey •  Who are you? Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 10
  • 11. 11 We Know Product Owners Are Part of the Scrum Team ScrumTeam.jpg (from Exploring Scrum- the Fundamentals, by Dan Rawsthorne & Doug Shimp)
  • 12. Why Do We Need 3 Roles? •  team: developers, testers, UX, tech writer –  building the product •  Scrum Master –  helping people work together and be effective •  Product Owner –  guiding the product
  • 13. Product Teams Rely on Product Owners Engineering is about making things right. Product Management is about making the right things. —Marty Cagan, author, Inspired
  • 14. Product Teams Rely on Product Owners There’s nothing more wasteful than brilliantly engineering a product that doesn’t sell, or a project that doesn’t matter.
  • 15. Where Do Product Owners Fit?
  • 16. Product Management is a huge challenge
  • 17. Product Owner is a subset of Product Management
  • 18. Conversations, market information, priorities, requirements, roadmaps, epics, user stories, backlogs, personas… product bits strategy, forecasts, commitments, roadmaps, competitive intelligence budgets, staff, targets Field input, Market feedback Segmentation, messages, benefits/features, pricing, qualification, demos… Markets & CustomersDevelopment Marketing & Sales Executives Product Management What Does a Product Manager Do? www.MIRONOV.com 18
  • 19. backlog, priorities, epics, user stories, personas, demo feedback product bits Markets & CustomersDevelopment Marketing & Sales Executives Product Owner What Does a Product Owner Do? www.MIRONOV.com 19 showcase customers
  • 20. Product Owner Responsibilities •  Communicate Product Vision •  Craft Product Roadmap / Identify 1st project •  Write Story Cards: high level / customer view •  Own, order, maintain the Product Backlog •  Detail Top-of-Backlog Stories / Acceptance Tests •  Always available to explain stories •  Decide what to do if product problems arise •  Ensure the value of work Team performs •  Perform Acceptance Tests •  Manage Stakeholders
  • 21. Prioritize •  Customers want to know that the team is working on what will benefit them most •  Developers want to know they’re working on the stuff customers will value most! •  There is no such thing as “2 top priorities”! •  “If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.” — Sheila Brady, Apple project management guru Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 21
  • 22. Prioritization: Both Necessary and Hard •  Speed of ideation far exceeds speed of development –  the Good Idea Train pulls into the product station every day with hundreds of “good ideas” •  Internal demand for engineering always >> supply •  Inherently political –  must balance interests of competing stakeholders •  Responsibility without authority •  Decisions are only semi-quantitative •  Must balance deliverables with strategy –  short term with long term –  must weight objectives
  • 23. Product Ownership Is Inherently Political •  Teams need Product Owners to say ‘no’ •  “Thank you! That’s a really interesting idea. Let me put it into the backlog.” •  Never agree without some measure of dev sizing
  • 24. Product Owner truths •  Agile stretches product organizations •  Understaffed: we need 1 PO/team –  we need 1 PO/team: 1 PO to “do it all” for each agile team •  Provide product-level vision •  Build trust, promote cross-functional good will •  Provide intense sprint-level focus –  theme, stories, backlog, prioritization, acceptance •  Provide the heat shield for escalations •  Available to the team at any time •  Feed the hungry agile beast
  • 25. Feeding the Agile Beast Steam engine “firemen” need to shovel coal constantly, otherwise the train will stop
  • 26. Scrum Team Roles •  Product Owner: feeds the beast Stories –  the “what” •  plus context: the “who” and the “why” •  team: developers, testers, UX, tech writer –  the “how”
  • 27. Engineering Relies on Product Owners Never tell people 'how' to do things. Tell them 'what' to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. —General George S. Patton
  • 28. Product Owners: Optimize for Value If you aren’t bargain hunting most items before you build them, you’re not maximizing the amount of work not done. Invite the team to propose 3+ implementation approaches (e.g. adjust scope, remove bells & whistles) to find high value at low cost. —Joshua Kerievsky, CEO, Industrial Logic
  • 29. The “What” plus the “Who” & “Why” As a <some kind of user> I want to <do something> in order to <accomplish some goal> Who What Why Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 29
  • 30. Why Include the “Why” “Building software off just a list of requirements misses out a lot business context - developers are told what to do without being told why it's important. The why often makes a big difference in doing the what properly.” --Martin Fowler Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 30
  • 32. Scrum Workflow Project initiation and planning... -> Development via iterative sprints
  • 33. Product Owner Roles: Lead, Participate, Attend, Skip? •  Story Mapping •  Story Writing •  Defining “Done” •  Story Sizing •  Story Valuing •  Backlog Ordering •  Story Refinement •  Sprint Planning •  Daily Standups •  Retrospectives
  • 34. Ownership? Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 34
  • 35. Ownership? Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 35
  • 36. Ordering Is More than ROI •  Good user-story ordering is a collaboration with Eng –  take dependencies into account –  support risk-first development •  reduce uncertainty –  enable design to emerge –  test architecture
  • 37. The Backlog Is More than User Stories •  Technical Product Backlog Items (Technical PBIs) –  pay down technical debt –  build foundational stuff / architecture –  fix outstanding bugs –  non-functional requirements –  reduce uncertainty / technical risk
  • 38. The Backlog Is More than User Stories •  Technical Product Backlog Items (Technical PBIs) The deal with engineering goes like this: Product management takes 20% of the team's capacity right off the top and gives this to engineering to spend on... whatever they believe is necessary to avoid ever having to come to the team and say, 'we need to stop and rewrite'.... I get nervous when I find teams that think they can get away with much less than 20%. --Marty Cagan, Inspired
  • 39. Sprint Planning •  Team pulls cards –  not assigned by anyone: not SM, not PO •  Goal: a perfect Sprint Plan –  close with a Fist-to-Five confidence vote
  • 40. Let Developers Focus •  Avoid interruptions Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 40
  • 41. Let Developers Focus •  Avoid interruptions •  Prevent mid-sprint tangents Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 41
  • 42. Let Developers Focus •  Avoid interruptions •  Prevent mid-sprint tangents •  Avoid developer multitasking Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 42
  • 43. Understand what Motivates Programmers •  Making a difference… From Managing the Unmanageable:, by Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty, based on Frederick Herzberg’s seminal work in the 1950s identifying and differentiating motivators and de-motivators. 43
  • 44. Share the Big Picture •  Connect the dots –  The big picture –  What each team member is contributing Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 44
  • 45. In the beginning, everyone will talk about scope, and budget, and schedule, but in the end, nobody really cares about any of those things. The only thing they care about is this: People will love your software, or they won’t. So that’s the only criterion to which you should truly manage. —Joseph Kleinschmidt, CTO, now a CEO * 1 of 300 rules of thumb in the center section of Managing the Unmanageable Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 45 Focus on What Matters*
  • 46. Ron Lichty Consulting •  Mentoring, coaching, training, consulting: –  http://ronlichty.com, Ron@RonLichty.com •  The book: Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools & Insights for Managing Software People & Teams –  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net <-----tools, excerpts, more rules of thumb •  Video training: LiveLessons: Managing Software People and Teams –  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net/video.html •  The study: The Study of Product Team Performance –  http://ronlichty.com/study.html •  Training: The Agile Manager Managing Software People and Teams Zero to Agile in Three Days Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 46
  • 47. Informit.com/lichty Save 50% on Video Training •  Use code VIDEO50 Save 35% on Book •  Use code SWDEV35 •  Good on print, eBooks, and video •  eBook files include PDF, EPUB, and MOBI Offer only good at informit.com 47
  • 48. Ron Lichty Consulting •  Mentoring, coaching, training, consulting: –  http://ronlichty.com, Ron@RonLichty.com •  The book: Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools & Insights for Managing Software People & Teams –  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net <-----tools, excerpts, more rules of thumb •  Video training: LiveLessons: Managing Software People and Teams –  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net/video.html •  The study: The Study of Product Team Performance –  http://ronlichty.com/study.html •  Training: The Agile Manager Managing Software People and Teams Zero to Agile in Three Days Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 48
  • 49. Ron Lichty: What the Heck Is a Product Owner? 49