What does Cross-Functional really mean for the Product Owner? 🚀 (64)
We started this Scrum foundation series explaining we see four underlying concepts of the Scrum framework. In the past series of mails we covered the three pillars of Empiricism, the Scrum Values, and Self-Management.
A self-managing team is taking decisions about who does what, when, and how. This ensures the team can move forward without unnecessary waiting time. If we want to improve on that, and to support the team taking ownership, having the needed skills within the team is another step.
👉 Cross-functional, meaning the team internally has all skills needed to successfully complete their goals.
Growing cross-functionality = growing skills = raising mastery = higher motivation = higher effectivity.
Each team member brings in skills to make the team cross-functional. What are skills expected from a Product Owner?
Reminder: as Product Owner you are accountable for maximizing value resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. For this you manage the Product Backlog. Well, in fact you manage stakeholder expectations and reflect the outcome of all these conversations in the Product Backlog.
Without even trying to being exhaustive, here are a skills / experiences I would expect the team to use:
Story Telling: this is not about writing user stories, but about telling stories to pass a message to the team, to management, or to users and prospects. What is the broader story behind the product, behind a feature?
Decision Making: choices will have to be made. Not everything can be equally important. There will not be enough time nor budget to implement every wish or desire. Decide. What makes it into the product, what is to be left out.
Experimenting: what works and what doesn't? Hard to know in our complex world. In order to understand the context, the challenge, the possible solution better, experimenting needs to happen. What experiments will allow the team to learn a lot in a short timeframe?
Listening: what is living in the market? What is it users, clients, prospects are really needing? What are their challenges? What are their pains?
Analysing/Understanding Data: market and usage trends are two key sets of information that guide ordering the Product Backlog.
Forecasting: based on input from, and together with the Developers, providing a forecast what users, clients and prospects might expect in an upcoming release.
Saying No: maybe one of the most difficult things to do, dare to say no; find ways to explain to stakeholders that something will not make it into the product because it is not aligned with the product vision.
These are just a few examples of skills that are put in action in order to maximize value.
☝️ It is not a matter of who in the team has the skills, as long as together the team has the skills needed.
Cross-functional is about having all skills within the team to create value each Sprint.
In order to maximize value, the Scrum Team needs specific Product Backlog management skills.
Together with your Scrum Team, evaluate which skill improvements the team would benefit from to improve on maximizing value.
We hope you will find value in these short posts and if you are looking for more clarifications, feel free to take contact.
PS. Next week we'll look at Cross-Functionality and the Developers.
If you want to take a deeper dive into the core concepts we are covering in this blog series, then surely check out our Professional Scrum MasterY workshop. We have some scheduled in the coming period.
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