Product Managers asked to perform Product Owner role

Last post 06:14 am October 1, 2021
by Ian Mitchell
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10:55 am September 30, 2021

I have recently joined a start up where Product Managers are becoming frustrated as they are asked to perform also product owner's responsibilities and feel they have no time to work on more strategical and market focus role.

Context:

1.The team uses Kanban

2. PM are currently managing all ceremonies and some have two small product teams to manage.

3. The company has no budget for additional resources to perform scrum master or product owner responsibilities

4. Until a few months ago, this was not an issue as the teams were smaller, everyone was working very collaboratively and all functions (design, eng, Qa etc..) were responsible for their own work and design was coordinating a lot of the work. 

5. This is becoming essential for the organizations, as Product Manager are not reviewing whether features are fit for purpouse due to lack of bandwith.

 

How would you tackle this team improvement challenge?

1. I have been asked to create a RACI for all the responsibilities but it is hard to get aligned and agreement from Product Managers who do not want to be involved in coordination anymore. 

2. We would like to avoid a top-down imposition but we are not sure how to best influence the team 

 

Any suggestions are very appreciated!

 

01:00 am October 1, 2021

What, exactly, are the responsibilities of a Product Manager in your organization? What are the gaps between their role and the Product Owner accountabilities, as it's defined in the Scrum Guide?

What do you mean by "managing all ceremonies" or "have two small product teams to manage"? How does this fit with self-organizing and self-managing teams?

What changed to cause people to stop working collaboratively?

Do the Product Managers have the knowledge to understand if features are fit for purpose? If so, can they transfer that knowledge to others? Is it possible to define what it means for work to be Done or a particular Product Backlog Item to be acceptable sufficiently for the designers, developers, and testers on the team to be reasonably confident that the work is fit for purpose?

06:14 am October 1, 2021

We would like to avoid a top-down imposition but we are not sure how to best influence the team 

You have Product Managers trying to manage others and no time to be accountable as Product Owners. Inspect-and-adapt events are seen as ceremonies, and teams evidently have a constrained ability to self-manage.

I'd suggest that there is an organizational gravity to be overcome if agile outcomes are to happen. Perhaps a top-down imposition of sorts is precisely what is needed. Remember that the best way to sponsor agile change is for a requisite sense of urgency to be created, communicated,and reinforced from the very top. Organizational change isn't something that can be delegated.