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Product Ownership - Top Ten Points

July 25, 2020

In May 2019, I spoke at the Agile Manchester conference, where I presented my talk "The Product Owner's Toolbox".

I asked the audience a question,

"What is the main worry for a Product Owner?"

Then gave people them 1 minute to thinking about what their answer would be.  Using the Liberating Structure 25/10, the audience identified the common issues that Product Owners face and how they potentially could be solved.

Make Ideas Reality



n.b. These were the opinion of the group and there will be multiple different answers and solutions to the question, so please don't be disheartened if your worry isn't in the list - it is still valid. 

Here is the top 10 items that were discovered by the group. The item in number 1 position was the most popular in the group

10)  Worry: Business want "IT" Faster

As a Product Owner, when your stakeholders want everything yesterday, explain what is possible using empircal evidence. It is an easier conversation than the one you'll have later when you can't deliver to their expectations.

9)  Worry: Competing Priorities from Stakeholders

As a Product Owner, if you have competing priorities from stakeholders bring them into a conversation together to discuss value and urgency.

8)  Worry: The Business Forces the Product down avenues that go against customer / user needs

As a Product Owner, if the Business insists that the product goes down avenues that go against customer / user needs - now is the time to negotiate & influence, produce proof of user research. BUT now more than ever own YOUR backlog.

7) Worry: Can't Deliver on Time

As a Product Owner, if you find that you can't make the anitcipated delivery date - look to either move to another date or reduce Scope & engage with stakeholders to manage expectations.

6) Worry: The addition of features is taking too long or is slow to market 

As a Product Owner, if you find that the addition of features is taking too long or is slow to market, reduce concurrent prioritised work and focus on small incremental value.

5) Worry: Am I addressing the business problem?

If you're worried about am "I addressing the business problem?" Help to ease this worry by delivering early and get feedback often.

4) Worry: Product Won't deliver business Value

If as a Product Owner, you're worried that the product won't deliver Business Value - ensure that the Backlog Items are value driven and not just task / technical issues. 

3) Worry: Am I building the right thing? 

If you ever question if you're building the right thing? Break it down into smaller parts, release a bit, Get feedback

2) Worry: Are we building the right things?

If as a Product Owner you ask yourself, "are building the right things?" Explore as many ways to get fast feedback as possible.

1) Worry: Building the right thing

If as a Product Owner you worry if you're building the right thing - Implement fast feedback loops. Releasing is the only way to validate assumptions!

OK... you may have noticed that the last three points are the same thing. Please remember that this was group thinking, and in a group of 30-40 people the top things that this group considered to be the main worry for a Product Owner was

"Are we buliding the right thing" 

This was important for the group AND this is why in Scrum we have some many opportunities to Inspect, Adapt and be Transparent - the 3 pillars of Empiricism.

In EVERY Event (Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective) there is an opportunity to inspect an artefact and adapt the course we're plotting for it. Strange how the frameworks helps to support the roles within it and their possible concerns -almost like it was built that way.  


Fancy reading this in Japanese? - It is available here -


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