2010-11-30

My Product Owner will kick ass

My Product Owner is my business owner. He deserves all the credit when we succeed, and all the blame when we fail. He has the most important role in my Agile team. He should be the highest paid, because he takes the greatest risk: if he fails, he’s fired. So says Mike Dwyer, and I agree.

My PO will run my business unit. He will be a courageous, ballsy, gutsy entrepreneur. He will lead my dev team as if it were his personal business, with his own money on the line. My team costs around $2.5million per year. He will embrace this responsibility and direct our spending that money wisely.

My PO’s success will be measured by the amount of business value we deliver into production service. If we don’t deliver what he promises, he fails. If someone on another team blocks our production deployment, he fails. When we deploy in production, our PO succeeds. When our service approaches 100% uptime, he succeeds.

My PO will be our head sales guy. He will be our customers’ best friend, building deep relationships with them. He will schmooze. It’s his job to take them out for beer or dinner. He'll play golf with them and give them tickets to a show or a big game. He will get them to trust him.

My PO will know what our customers really want. Is it high availability? Is it new features? Is it guaranteed backward compatibility? He will listen and understand. And listen some more.

My PO will be a visionary. He will be a domain expert with a long term vision for our product.  He will guide us from the big picture to the nitty-gritty details. He will care about every pixel in the UI.

My PO will sell both the vision and the detail to our customers. He’s already their best friend, and he spends a lot of time listening to what they want, so this should be easy. And when his vision isn't exactly what they ask for, he will convince them that it’s what they meant to ask for. He’ll sell our road map to them and convince them that every small release is a step on the way to what they want. He will turn our customers from antagonists into allies.

My PO will sell his vision to my dev team. He will inspire the team to build what our customers want and need. He will introduce our customers to the team, and the team to our customers, so they understand and trust each other.

My PO will define every product backlog item in extreme detail. Every backlog item will be ready-ready. I will know that it’s what our customers want and need before we start building it.

My PO will show up. He will attend our estimating meetings and explain the backlog items to us so we can estimate them well. He will help us on sprint planning day, explaining the goals and the details, and guiding us to choose the right backlog items and the right amount of work. He will take part in our daily scrums so we don’t go off track. He will watch our sprint demo and applaud us when we get it right or tell us we suck when we get it wrong.

My PO will win and bring us along with him. My PO will kick ass.

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