Agile Product Ownership: Do the Right Things, Not Everything

Agile product owners feel the need to be in all places, all the time, with all people. To succeed, they need to be inventive yet intensely focused; collaborative but decisive; far-sighted but detail oriented. The best product owners are strategic—envisioning the product, communicating upstream with business executives, researching the market, and continually planning for delivery of high-value product options. Yet at the same time, they are also tactical—communicating downstream with the delivery team, running product demos, and discussing technical considerations. 

Talk about a role that requires excellent balance and effective collaboration!

The good news is that it is possible to lighten your load and strengthen your product ecosystem so that you can make space for the right things amidst the clutter of everything. The key is to collaboratively examine the work of product ownership.

This workshop will identify the responsibilities and disciplines involved in the product owner role. We’ll explore the strategic and tactical work of agile product ownership, examine decision-making rules apply to the work of product ownership, and then use a fast-paced game to determine the level of delegation that is appropriate for product ownership work.

Whether you are a product owner, agile coach, or team member, this workshop will provide you with activities you can bring back to your product community. You’ll leave with new perspectives on ways you might lighten your load and strengthen your support system so that you can make space for the right things amidst the clutter of everything.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

(' =minutes)(format below uses Sharon Bowman’s Training from the Back of the Room structure, the 4C’s)


  • Find out who’s in the room (pop-up). (1’)
  • What are your product ownership struggles? (4’) 


  • Quick Teach: Agile Product Ownership: Discuss the discipline and work of agile product ownership, strategic and tactical work, discovery and delivery work. (5’) (Presenter)
  • Activity: Strategic and Tactical Agile Product Ownership (Exercise): Form teams. Teams sort cards*, each representing the work of product ownership, into portions of a Venn diagram (strategic, tactical, overlapping) (17’) (groups)

Concrete Practice:

  • Quick Teach: Decision Rules and Participatory Decision-Making. (4’)(presenter)
  • Activity: Decision Rules and Participatory Decision-Making: Teams identify which of the product ownership work cards would involve participatory decision rules (select the top 5), identify the best decision rule, and give their rationale in the plenary. (15’)(groups)
  • Quick Teach: Lighten the Load: 7 levels of delegation, as described in Jurgen Appelo’s #Workout book (4’)(presenter)
  • Activity: Lighten the Load: Play Jurgen’s delegation poker using the product ownership work cards that were used in the tactical/strategic exercise (20’)(groups) 


  • Retrospect: groups share action they can take as product owner or team member (5’)(groups)

* I will provide cards with a variety of different activities that comprise the work of product ownership. These cards, used for both the strategy/tactics sorting exercise and the delegation poker exercises, have been developed from multiple uses in training and conference sessions.

Learning Outcome

  • Identify the strategic and tactical work involved in product ownership
  • Appreciate the value of transparent decision making
  • Understand when and how agile team members can collaboratively support product owners
  • Consider what product owner activities can be delegated, when, and to whom

Target Audience

Product owners and team members and coaches working witih product owners.

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker