Is the PO position technical in nature?

Last post 10:33 pm May 20, 2021
by Krzysztof Zajkowski
5 replies
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02:03 pm May 12, 2021

Obviously you want your PO to understand every detail of the software dev work but is it required they know how to code? How to run SQL statements?

Or is it more important they know priority, ask the right questions to the devs as to what stage their work is in? Keep them on track during the day? Give good Sprint Reviews and get client feedback? 

02:19 pm May 12, 2021

Obviously you want your PO to understand every detail of the software dev work 

I don't think you do. Maintaining that understanding would be waste, unless the PO intends to use such detailed knowledge by also being a developer doing development work.

A PO should know enough to collaborate with the Developers so value is maximized. For example, he or she should understand the significance of any technical debt.

04:02 pm May 12, 2021

I agree with @Ian Mitchell.  I don't want my PO to understand every detail of the software dev work.  I want them to understand every detail about how the product provides value to the stakeholders and how to discover additional work that will improve that value.  The Developers will understand every detail of the software dev work.  Developers and Product Owners will respect the knowledge of each other and trust that each is doing their best work. 

There should be some level of understanding between the two.  Developers have to be able to speak in non-technical terms to help the Product Owner understand their work.  Product Owners need to have basic knowledge of technology in order to provide insights into problems that are needing to be addressed and understand the implications of the technology on the ability to provide a solution.  But neither should be deeply knowledgeable of the others domain. 

11:36 pm May 12, 2021

I'm going to oversimplify this based on what Elon Musk recently said. Do you want an MBA or an engineer to make product decisions? Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Alphabet, etc. were all founded by engineers who then became product managers.

07:43 pm May 14, 2021

Thanks guys. I agree with Mark here and why I meant the "you want your PO to understand every detail of the software dev work." 

I'm coming from a non-technical background and while I know Agile, know my teams and know my Product, I still have trouble understanding the concepts of technology. i.e. database, middle layers, API's, UI, customer experience, etc. 

I'm getting better but as Mark says, I feel like it's better to be an Engineer first, than a Product person. Would help break these features and stories down. 

I'll learn. Thanks for the input. 

12:58 pm May 20, 2021

What would you say to Product Owner who wants to be very technical and challenge developers in how they do their job?