July 18, 2018

Eliminating the Product Owner Role

“The Product Owner role no longer exists” I recently announced to an entire department in a large company. A few POs looked a bit shocked and concerned. What would they do instead?

Before I get into who or what would replace the PO role, let me offer a bit of background on this group. Three coaches, including myself, had assessed this group prior to beginning work with them. Our findings were typical:

  • Too much technical debt was slowing development to a crawl
  • There was insufficient clarity on what needed to be built
  • The developers spent little time with their Product Owner
  • The team was scattered around a building, not co-located
  • etc.

When you perform numerous assessments of teams or departments in many industries, you tend to see patterns. The above issues are common. We’ve worked out solutions to these problems eons ago. The challenge is whether people want to embrace change and actually solve their problems. This group apparently was hungry enough to want change....

Chartering is a vital skill I learned from a software industry legend named III. It helps teams and organizations figure out what outcome they’d like to achieve, how they would know they achieved it and who is necessary to help achieve it.

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