Who Is: The Product Owner

A Product Owner is a Visionary
A real Product Owner is a visionary, in that they see the current situation clearly, and have a good (or even great) idea of where they want the product to evolve to in the short and long term.  If your Product Owner doesn’t have this vision, they probably aren’t a true Product Owner.  It’s not that the Product Owner needs to know, or even have an idea of, how to get from the current state to the evolved form of the product.  It’s more about guiding the Development Team towards seeing and accepting that same vision for the product.  The state of mind where people blindly following someone’s direction, has no connection to Scrum.  Getting people on-board and energized to evolve (or create) a product, in a shared vision, has everything to do with Scrum and Scrum Team behaviors.

A Product Owner is a Domain Leader

The Product Owner is a subject matter expert in the area of the the product’s domain.

A Product Owner is the Voice of the Stakeholders

Customer Advocate

Understands the needs of the business buying the product and sets priorities for a mix of features valuable to the customer

A Product Owner is a Prioritizer

End User Advocate

Describes the product with understanding of users and use, and advocates a product that best serves both

A Product Owner is a List Maker
Simultaneously one of the most boring, and one of the most exhilarating, jobs of the Product Owner, is to be a List Maker.  How so?  Sometimes Product Owners are required to repetitively enter new Product Backlog Items into the Product Backlog.  This can be super boring if the focus is just on getting the PBI’s defined and visible on the Product Backlog.  The complete flip-side to this is that it can be very exciting to add stuff to the Product Backlog that is going to blow you customers away!  These things could take the market by storm, or be underwheling to the point of waste.  It is ultimately the Product Owner’s responsibility to maintain the Product Backlog, no matter where new PBI’s come from.  So, it is ultimately up to the Product Owner to have the most valuable list of stuff to do for the Product.

A Product Owner is a Communicator

Capable of communicating vision and intent, deferring detailed features and design decisions to be made just in time

Release Manager

Decision Maker

Given a variety of conflicting goals and opinions, be the final decision maker for hard product decisions

A Product Owner Maximizes Value

Business Advocate

Understands the needs of the organization paying for the project and selects a mix of features that serve their goals