Product Owner & the Team

Is the product owner a member of the team?  Yes, fully and completely.

What is the biggest problem that most teams face? At the high level (value) or the low level (details), they don’t understand what the customer wants well enough.

Who is mainly responsible for managing the flow of this ‘business information’ into the Team?  The PO of course.  And this is a never-ending job. For example, at the lowest level imaginable, as they complete each step of work, he should be giving feedback: “well, that was not quite what I meant”, meaning “I don’t think it is quite what the customer will want.”

The feeding of the team, this feedback to the Builders and Testers is essential.  And it must be done daily.  The bad news does not get better with age.

When we start with a different tradition of thinking and working, there are many obstacles to this ‘union’ or yoking of the PO with the Builders and Testers.  One is the builders and testers at first wonder “what is that guy doing hanging around here?”  Another is that the PO feels kind of weird around all these geeks and their geek-talk.

Both sides need to, and will eventually learn how to, live and work with each other.  It takes time.

Only together, as a full team, can they really win.


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4 thoughts on “Product Owner & the Team

  1. Catherine C

    Interesting post, I think what is missing here is not only dynamic bewteen other deptarments (i.e dev, PO, etc.) but the role that the customer plays in the overall process. Determining what the customer wants is much easier when you rely on product related insights.


    Catherine C
    OneDesk Inc

  2. Joe Little

    Hi Catherine,
    Yes, many possible things missing, depending on the situation. In fact the way I said the things that I did might change too.

    I am assuming that in some situations, the customer could be the PO.

    Now, when you say 'customer' are you building a product for one client, or for many customers or clients?

    Also, tell me more what you mean by 'product related insights'. In general, I find we try to hard to provide a product, and not enough to provide a (fuller) solution to a problem.

    Tell me more…
    Thx, Joe

    1. Joe Little Post author

      Yes. But I would not say essential. The essential thing is that all the Team members (and the PO hmself) feel he is a team member. Definitely attend almost all Daily Scrums (often a key impediment will be “I have a question about X on Story Y” — or at least those impediments should be surfaced there). I say ‘almost all’ since the PO should also be seeing customers, which often means missing some daily meetings.

      The PO should have some tasks on the Board. At least to review each story when it is complete. Typically other things as well, depending on the stories. And his tasks to do “release plan refactoring” should also be shown. Although not under a current sprint story.

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