Product Owner = A Leader with a Passion

Dec 21, 2014 by Barc Category: Agile, Agile Executive, Blog, Scrum, Uncategorized 0 comments

At the end of the day, if you don’t have a leader who has a passion for the product, it doesn’t matter how good your team or delivery process is.

And no amount of well-facilitated workshops, brainstorms, roadmaps, standups, or demos will change that.

If your leader is not a rabid fan of the end product or service you are selling, you might as well work at McDonalds for a living and get your direction from a 3-ring binder.

I have consulted at many companies where the leader was an administrator, a project manager, or a marketer. They were great at getting the trains out on time, but ultimately didn’t love the product, or even use it.

I’ve also worked with many leaders who have no idea who their customer is or what problems they are having with their product–so they don’t even have a useful resource for ideas if they have none themselves.

How to fix this situation?

It’s tough.

You can leverage the good ideas of the folks on the team who DO use the product, who DO know the customer, and cook up their ideas into a product innovation plan that the leader can bless.

Or, even better, go out and video a few your users using your product or service. About an hour of that misery usually gets the ideas flowing.

The problem, of course, is that if an organization relies on outside resources for its core ideas, no one person internally owns it, no one drives it through the organization. Ultimately, the ones who were vaguely excited about the idea in month one disappear in month two when the going gets rough.

I find the best approach is to keep working with the leader to ferret out one central idea they really believe in. A passion, no matter how buried in their heart. It could be something they saw in a competitors product, but start there. Help them build a plan around developing that idea, then blend in the the good ideas from the team members and customers who care.

Momentum, and hopefully courage, will build.