Home > Agile, Leadership > Acting product owner or having an active product ownership

Acting product owner or having an active product ownership

The other night, I had a long chat with former colleague and close friend Morten about transparency in software development process. With that we mean that there are no secrets about what users wants and what they need and what is not working. It is one thing that users don’t go directly to individual developers all the time but it’s never a good idea to buffer this information on someone’s desk and that developers are kept in the dark – if they want to see the list they can do so. And the same goes with business people and users: they shouldn’t have to go to that buffer person to learn the current bug situation.

I’ve tried explaining the roles of scrum as roles in a play but reading a simply excellent blog post by Version One, I realize now that this can result in misunderstanding of the responsibility. I’m talking like the product owners who simply act the role like an actor. And as the Version One blogger so correctly puts it:

"In most organizations, the Product Owner is pretty simply acting as a buffer between the team and the business. "

From a lean perspective, a product owner in this case brings no value to the process. If you also have a scrum master who also act the master part of the title, chances are that you now have two buffers and probably non working software. As the blogger at Version One puts it, a working active product owner keep a groomed product backlog which all can take part in. And chances are big that the opposite also applies: the lacking product backlog can often result in non working software. And non working does not have to mean that the software quality is poor, but that the wrong features are built or that the right features don’t meet the user’s actual need.

Applying lean values are important to achieve real excellence in what you do. When I dived into agile I thought that agile software development is connected to lean software development, but I don’t any more. You can use scrum and still have lots of wastes (like buffering product owners and scrum masters) and really poor quality. That is why a lean perspective also should be applied and just not rub eachothers backs and think that we are lean since we use scrum.

But take the time to read the blog post from Version One, me for one love the simple images: going on my wall at work tomorrow!

Categories: Agile, Leadership Tags: ,
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