Summary

While business knowledge and domain expertise is useful and essential, is this only achievable with a 'single wringable neck'? Can a team be aligned without having a ‘one throat to choke’? What would happen if the whole team could be encouraged to take ownership of product direction? Chaos? The Apocalypse? Or maybe (just possibly) success?

Full Abstract

While business knowledge and domain expertise is useful and essential, is this only achievable with a 'single wringable neck'? Can a team be aligned without having a ‘one throat to choke’? What would happen if the whole team could be encouraged to take ownership of product direction? Chaos? The Apocalypse? Or maybe (just possibly) success?

In this session we face up to some uncomfortable realities about many present approaches and attitudes to product ownership. Then, journey into the past to discover the top secret superpower that all teams working towards agility have, but often forget.

During the session we will question assumptions and slay some sacred cows*. Prepare to have your attitude to product ownership transformed, this job might never be the same again.

*No actual cows were/will be harmed in the production/presentation of this session.

 
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Outline/Structure of the Talk

Intro - 1 mins

  • A (very) brief intro to me and my background.

Product Owners and Negative Language ~ 5 mins

  • I ask the product owners in the room to stand up and they are given stickers with common phrases associated with the role. “I’m the single wringable neck”, “It’s all my fault”, “I’m the one throat to choke”, etc.

  • A brief discussion on the use of this language and the concept of accountability. How do the group feel about accountability in relation to this role? Is it essential or maybe superfluous?

A Great Product Owner ~ 5 mins

  • I ask the group what is one word for them that is an attribute of a “great” product owner, they then raise their hands and shout out. We have a group discussion about some of the words.

  • Depending on the audience size, I will use an interactive word cloud tool that generated a word cloud on the screen from submitted information. I used this for the session when given as the keynote at Agile Africa and at Agile 2019.

The Formal Definition ~ 5 mins

  • I present the Agile Alliance definition of a product owner to discuss with the group if that aligns with our earlier definition. And discuss other challenges with that definition.

Decisions in the face of Uncertainty ~ 5 minutes

  • We ask the questions : “Where does the work come from?” and “How do we know it’s right?” This a brief open discussion with the whole group.

  • We look at some of the research into how often we get the ‘right answer’ when it comes to “knowing” what our customer wants.

History Lesson Part 1: Frederick Winslow Taylor ~ 5 mins

  • We look into the history of Scientific Management and what we can learn (and potentially unlearn from it)

History Lesson Part 2: Taiichi Ohno ~ 5 mins

  • We take a comparative look at Toyota’s very different attitude to people and work.

  • We look into the Toyota Way with a short video. - 2 mins

  • We explore some of the pillars of the toyota way as they apply to product ownership.

Mutual Respect ~ 2 minutes

  • We explore the mutual respect between leader and team member that is inherent in the problem solving processes at Toyota.

The Five Pillars of Collaborative Product Ownership ~ 5 minutes

  • We apply our learning from both Scientific Management and the Toyota Way to create the five pillars of collaborative product ownership:

    • Respect People

    • Embrace Uncertainty

    • Small Experiments

    • Continuous Learning

    • No Complacency

Closing ~ 3 mins

  • In closing, I ask the product owners in the room to stand up again. I ask the group what the major benefit is (to them) from collaborative product ownership?

  • I ask them to remove their labels and end with “Welcome to the team”

Learning Outcome

  • Understand the current available definitions of the Product Owner role.

  • Understand the qualities of a “great” product owner.

  • Understand how we make decisions in the face of uncertainty.

  • Understand how to foster a culture of mutual respect.

  • Understand the 5 pillars of collaborative product ownership.

Target Audience

Product owners looking to engage the whole team in the with the product direction, but also of value to anyone looking to build a culture of continuous learning in their teams and organisations.

Prerequisites for Attendees

The group should have some familiarity with the typical roles on an agile team, specifically product owner, but they don't have to be a product owner or in a product centric role.

schedule Submitted 7 months ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Shashikumar singh
    By Shashikumar singh  ~  7 months ago
    reply Reply

    Hello John

    Thanks for submitting your proposal on " The 5 Pillars of Collaborative Product Ownership " 

    Just wanted to check with you as the Outline/structure of the Session is more then 40 minutes but the category under which proposal submission has been done is of 20 minutes.

    Is it correct outline of your session. 

    Regards

    Shashi K SIngh 

    • John Le Drew
      By John Le Drew  ~  7 months ago
      reply Reply

      Strange, sure I selected 45 mins :)

      Updated

      Thanks!