Softobiz Technologies India | Insights | 6 Misunderstood Product Owner Stances to Avoid
Misunderstood Stances of Product Owners
Categories
Product development Scrum

6 Misunderstood Product Owner Stances to Avoid

Misunderstood Stances of Product Owners

A product owner’s job is full of responsibility. They have to manage lengthy catalogues to ensure the product development goes smoothly, keep a track of the product development process, and act as a bridge between the development team and stakeholders. Apart from this, they also have to maximize the value of the product and bring innovative ideas onboard so that its value never goes down. 

Now, juggling between multiple responsibilities, it can be difficult for product owners to decide how they should behave. So, they follow different stances – some of which are misunderstood while some are widely preferred. 

In this blog, we will talk about 6 misunderstood product owner stances which you should avoid so that you can be a good product owner and make wise decisions. Let’s start: 

Misunderstood Product Owner stances

1. The Story Writer 

The product owners following the story writer stance can always be seen sitting behind a laptop writing user stories and acceptance criteria. They pay close attention to details and prefer a lot of documentation. You can identify such product owners by the following patterns: 

  • A well-organized product backlog where all the items will be clearly written. 
  • A keen eye for details and a love to dig into all nitty gritty stuff. 
  • Playing the role of a business analyst, technical writer, a scribe, and a note taker at the same time. 

How does this behaviour affect the product development? 

  • Too much time wastage on unnecessary details. 
  • Slow product development pace due to the lack of vision and strategy. 
  • Ignoring the long-term effects like (TCO and ROI) while focusing only on small details and short-term results.  
  • The scrum team slows down because of this behaviour. 
  • The scrum team never remains dependent on the product owner. 

2. The Order Taker or Clerk 

Product owners following this stance prefer taking orders from the stakeholders and make sure their wishes are fulfilled. Their goal is to satisfy everyone: stakeholders, customers, the development team, and the users.  

You can identify such product owners from the following patterns: 

  • Endlessly long product backlogs. 
  • The usual interaction of order takers is with internal stakeholders. They rarely interact with external users or people who actually buy the product. 
  • Acting as a carrier pigeon between the development team and the stakeholders, never making any decision on their own. 

How does this behaviour affect product development? 

  • Unmanageable product catalogue and filled with endless list of user stories. 
  • The product is not based on vision but just on what everybody wants. 
  • Ignoring the long-term effects like (TCO and ROI) while focusing only on small details and short-term results.  
  • The product development team slows down and becomes heavily dependent on product owners. 

3. The Project Manager 

Product owners with the project manager stance are also known as output maximisers. Their goal is to ensure that the team is delivering enough output and everyone has enough work in the sprint to keep them occupied. In simple words, they focus the most on productivity. 

We can identify product owners with the project manager stance by the following patterns: 

  • Clear insights about the start and the end of the project. 
  • Great concern about day-to-day progress of the development team. 
  • Measuring the success of the team in the form of increased velocity. 
  • Product owners with the project manager stance prefer to be micromanagers, making sure everything happens on time and the input is maximum. 

How does this behaviour affect product development? 

  • Ignoring the long-term effects like (TCO and ROI) while focusing only on small details and short-term results.  
  • Forgetting about delivering value to customers in the quest to deliver more output. 
  • The development team gets dependent on product owners and stop learning to be self-organized. 
  • Again, being a carrier pigeon, there is less initiative taking from the end of product owners following this stance. 

4. Subject Matter Expert 

Product owners with the subject matter expert stance specialize in their field and know how the stuff works. They possess enough knowledge to effectively guide the team through the product development and pay attention to the nitty-gritty details. 

You can identify product owners with SME stance through these patterns: 

  • Great attention to details. 
  • Rapid use phrases of like “I will let you know about the next steps when we get there.” 
  • SME product owners love playing more than one role like an architect, a development expert, a test manager, a UX designer, or a micromanager. 

How does this behaviour affect product development? 

Product owners who favor this stance are seen both as a bless and a curse. While they can make more informed decisions and create a better plan, but this can also bring in dependency. 

Here are some other effects: 

  • Forgetting long-term outcomes (TCO and ROI) as product owners are too busy focusing on short-term goals. 
  • The scrum team may slow down and become dependent on the product owner. 
  • Since SME product owners don’t share their vision with others, the product development can be affected by this. 

5. The Gatekeeper 

Product owners with the gatekeeper stance tend to block all the connections between the development team and its stakeholders, and ensure all the communication goes through him/her. They may act important as they have to answer all the queries of the development but can hardly find any time to attend to their needs. 

You can predict the gatekeeper product owner stance with the following patterns: 

  • The gatekeeper product owner tends to block all interactions with the outside world. They believe that the development team can deliver more work if they are protected from the distraction from the outside world. 
  • The gatekeeper product owner emphasizes that all the ideas, demands, or work-related queries will have to be discussed with him/her – not the stakeholders. 
  • Gatekeepers also tend to block the feedback from the stakeholders to the development team. Some will not even let the development team talk to customers. 

How does this behaviour affect the product development? 

  • Since all the feedback, communication, or interaction is blocked with the stakeholders, your development will never come to know where it lacks and how it can improve the product. This stops the growth. 
  • The development team becomes heavily dependent on the product owner and never learn to self-organize. 
  • This behaviour also slows down the product development process. 

6. The Manager 

Product owners with the manager stance are always concerned with the well-being of the scrum team. Seeing the members of his team developing, learning new skills, obtaining knowledge, and growing by making mistakes – gives the manager the greatest joy. In simple words, he/she is always concerned with people’s growth. 

Here are some other patterns using which you can identify the manager product owner: 

  • Always looking after the team and inspire the team members to grow. 
  • Evaluating each member’s performance individually and giving everyone equal attention. 
  • Interacting with every team member and making them feel comfortable and wanted. 

How does this behaviour affect the product development? 

  • While focusing on the performance of his team members, the manager product owners often forget their ultimate goal, i.e. maximizing the value of the product.  
  • The managers may end up overdoing things because coaching, training, and mentoring the development people is basically a scrum master’s job.  

So, these are the misunderstood product owner stances which you should avoid in your organization at any cost because they do more harm than good. Instead, you have to employ stances which are favoured and accepted in a positive light because these are the stances which will help you grow as a product owner.   

Still, all this is easier said than done. Most of the times, the product owners will not even realize that they are following a misunderstood stance. That’s why, you need guidance from someone who has experience in product development. Having developed successful products since last 12 years, we can help. 

Request a free consultation today. 

Recommended

Remote Working is the future, but are you ready?

WebRTC Architecture: Everything You Need to Know

How Secure is Your Data in the Cloud?

Harnessing the Power of GraphQL