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The Product Owner’s Passion

By Haim Deutsch • 26 Jul, 2016
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When working with Product Owners, and when facilitating CSPO trainings, I like to emphasize the main role of the Product Owner (PO).

The PO is the customer’s and stakeholder’s delegate, he has ownership over the Product Backlog , i.e. he is the unique one with authority to ‘cut’ and make decisions.

But, the most important responsibility of the PO is to SHARE THE VISION!

Share the vision of the product, the release, the epic, the feature – Any level of vision, they are all equally important.

Why?

The first answer shall be that in order for the teams to develop as fast as  they can, they need crystal clear goals and pace. The pace is given by daylies, sprints, releases, etc… The goals are the responsibility of the Product Owner to properly define them, present them, in one word: Share.

That’s true, and I’m experiencing once and again what amazing improvement such a minor effort brings to the teams.

The question is: how do I do this?

How do I properly share the vision? How can I leverage this ‘vision sharing’ idea?

Scientists who have studied motivation have identified three keys for truly motivating people: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Autonomy is what we call in Scrum self-organized teams.

Mastery is the desire to continually improve at something which matters. This is where the Scrum Master plays his role empowering the team.

And finally, the team need Purpose, the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. This is also where the Product Owner takes the role! giving purpose and vision to the teams!

I’m currently coaching an extraordinary medical device company. This company has developed a non-invasive system for bones, liver, prostate and even brain treatments without the use of a single scalpel. I attended yesterday a pre-planning session while their great PO announced at the beginning of the session that he waz going to show the teams a documentary on the French tv, i24, featuring the neuro-utilization of the system. The short documentary (5 minutes in French) features Maya, an 88 old comic artist who was infected with a virus eight years ago leaving her to be unable to stand, eat, draw and even drink alone (this was all filmed). After a short treatment with the system, with no anesthesia or even a drop of blood split, we see the same woman able to drink alone and even to draw.

The reaction of the teams was immediate. They felt the real purpose of what they are doing and how they are going to help humanity. This is their purpose! This is their vision!

A good purpose is emotional, I’ll treat this subject in a further article, it shall explain

  • WHY we do what we are doing?
  • WHY we get out of bed every day?
  • WHY are we giving our time and attention for hours?

This WHY is bigger than us, this WHY is at the service of something bigger than ourselves!

Want a well-known example?

In the late 70’s, there was a thin guy named Steve Jobs. He had a vision and he shared it: “Everything we do, we believe we are challenging the status-quo, we believe we are doing differently, we are creating innovation, and we are doing this  through beautiful design, simple to use and user friendly products, thus we are making  computers”….  And the rest is history!

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