You may have read that Product Owners are one of the fastest emerging jobs today and playing a more important role in companies. But what makes a Product Owner great? As a Product Owner you need to be passionate about your product and your customers as you represent these in the Scrum Team. You are a team player yet autonomous, you motivate and communicate well with a high degree of influence. If this sounds like you, and/or you are looking to move into a Product Owner role, here are some personal traits of a great Product Owner you can use to enhance your role.
1. Team Player
The Product Owner is an integral part of the Scrum Team to ensure successful Products are released. You let the Scrum Team know what the product is about and what and who is it for and help them understand the Product Vision. You get the Scrum Team involved in Product Backlog Prioritisation and Refinement, and you are open and transparent about the Product Backlog Items so that the team can estimate correctly. You get involved in Scrum Events when possible to help build a strong team to help get the Product delivered. You listen to the team on issues and help solve them or escalate them to people who can.
Along with the Scrum Master, the Product Owner motivates the Scrum Team to deliver the Sprint, answer questions, keep morale high, and help to create a high performing team, and leading by example.
3. Emotional Intelligence
Dealing with Product Managers, the Scrum Team, and various stakeholders, all with different personalities and authority can be challenging at times. You need to be able to stand your ground, to push back when required, to lead, and to get people engaged and involved. Knowing how to deal with people and to get the best outcome requires emotional intelligence (or EQ). Daniel Goleman wrote the book on Emotional Intelligence and still stands today on why EQ can matter more than IQ.
4. Ability to Say ‘No’
Product Backlogs can get very lengthy and everyone wants to put their items released earlier, but the Product Owner is the sole owner of the Product Backlog and prioritises the items. You need to be able to say ‘No’ with authority and diplomacy to anyone wanting their items prioritised if it does not fit in well with the Sprint, or there are items with greater priority.
The Product Owner needs to deal with a variety of stakeholders therefore the ability to influence stakeholders and team members is important to keep the sprint on track, to be able to prioritise backlog items, and to get the best overall outcome for the project.
6. Domain Knowledge
The Product Owner knows the Product. Like, really knows the Product. Product Owners often come from a Product or Technical Specialist background which is why you are well positioned to understand the Product inside and out and to carry the vision of the Product. Or you may just pick it up on the job and become the Subject Matter Expert for that product or domain. You know how the Product works, why it is used, who uses it, when it is used, and communicate that knowledge to the Scrum Team. You may be involved in the creation of the Product idea and developing the idea into a Product. And you will be able to use that domain knowledge to create accurate customer profiles, personas and user stories.
Good communication skills are essential in any role, but as a Product Owner you need to be able to communicate the Product Vision to the Scrum Team and stakeholders. You represent the customer on the Scrum Team which you can communicate by creating clear personas and user stories. You listen and take in issues the Scrum Team are having and help fix them and answer questions they have. You effectively communicate progress back to stakeholders and customers and to take them on the Agile journey.
We hope you find these useful to make you a better Product Owner and Scrum Team member as you continue on your Agile and Scrum career journey. Also take a look at the books and certification courses we recommend below and hope to see you on one of our courses soon!
For further reading, here are some books that we recommend to start with from our reading catalog that are aimed at Product Owners:
User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton
Jeff Patton shows you how changeable story maps enable your team to hold better conversations about the project throughout the development process.
Purple Cow by Seth Godin
How to make your Products, Services and Business remarkable.
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Most new businesses fail but Eric Ries explains how most of those failures are preventable using Lean.
Lateral Leadership by Tim Herbig
Tim Herbig shows how Product Managers can lead without the explicit authority to do so.
RedAgile are Australia's leading Agile Scrum training provider certified by the Scrum Alliance. As Australia's best Scrum training provider we offer Agile Scrum training courses and consulting services both online and in-person. Our training portfolio includes: Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) as well as our new Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) and Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) courses.