“Garbage in, garbage out” is an old programming concept that is today somewhat similar to the “Building the right product versus building the product right” mantra. In Agile project management approaches like Scrum, the role of the product owner is fundamental to deliver value to the customer. Scrum. The Product Ownership book written by Robert Galen is completely dedicated to this crucial role and aims at presenting approaches, behaviors and attitudes of great product owners.
The Scrum Product Ownership book discusses with a pragmatic view the main aspects of the product owner life, from the definition of user stories and release planning to attendance to Scrum meetings or the incorporation of software architecture and design in Agile projects. The book is clearly written and well structured. The chapters are presented at the beginning of each section, thus allowing you to pick up specific content if you need it. The book contains also an extended list of external references if you want to explore other sources on specific topics. The balance between the definition of concepts and the presentation of Robert Galen personal experience is good. There are many insights that you can get from this book and it was a difficult task to choose the quotes published below from all the material I had selected while reading the book.
I will recommend this book naturally to every Product Owner, but also to all people involved in Scrum development or working in the requirement areas, like business analysts or product managers.
Reference: Scrum Product Ownership (2nd edition), Robert Galen, 236 pages, ISBN 978-0-9885026-2-8
There are many Scrum Product Owners and/or agile customers who feel their job solely revolves around creating a Product Backlog or list of prioritized features for their product development efforts. While all of the agile methodologies are essentially driven by such list, there is an incredible amount of nuance and breadth beyond this to getting the role “right”.
Many organizations are also making a huge mistake when it comes to staffing the Product Owner role. In some cases, they overload Product Owners with many teams and force them into part-time roles. In others, they ask the team to figure it out on their own, or assign a Product Owner that doesn’t have the requisite skills to be successful. These organizations need to realize that skilled Product Owners are a full time and critical component of their agile adoption strategies’ success. That lessening their investment or trivializing the role is a quick path to failure.
Many Product Owners attack user story development from the perspective that it’s solely their responsibility to develop them. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead view the development of your backlogs as a team responsibility that only starts with the story-writing workshop; it does not end there.
Many agile organizations fail to scale their agile instances at the product level as much as they do at the development team level. They simply miss the need for it, thinking that a disparate group of Product Owners should be able to “work amongst themselves” to integrate the work. While this can work in small instances, it doesn’t scale well. I’d also argue that these larger scale organizations know very well how to operate with larger product planning and coordination. They just think that agility relieves them of this hard work; which couldn’t be more untrue.