Top 10 failure modes of a Product Owner
Top ten Failure Modes of a Product Owner – or, in other words, What are the mistakes a Product Owner is very likely to make.
1. More focused on People instead of the Product
The Product Owner has to be more focused on the product and less on the people. It is the ScrumMaster‘s responsibility to be people-centric.
2. Not able to manage stakeholder expectation
The Product Owner has to grasp and manage the stakeholders’ expectations and priorities, and act accordingly. Any failure to do so would steer the team off the desired path.
3. Fails to communicate the product vision
The Product Owner is the most important link between the customer and the team. He should ensure that the team understands and works towards the product vision.
4. Fails to communicate the reality to stakeholders
Product Owner communicates the reality of the project, its progress, bottlenecks and so on to the customer and other stakeholders.
5. Disconnected from the team
If the Product Owner is a part-timer or a person who is often pulled in different directions for purposes that are not directly related to the project, he will not be able to regularly participate in team activities and planning meetings, and provide support and encouragement to the team.
6. Unbalanced level of involvement in the project
The Product Owner has to properly involve himself in both the team activities and customer interactions. If he is not at all involved with the team, the project dives into chaos. Similarly if he is too engrossed in the project without making himself available for the customer, the customer loses touch with the project status.
7. Unavailable Product Owner
If the Product Owner is not available for long periods of time, the necessary preparations will not get done and decisions he is expected to take get delayed, thus further delaying the activities of the team.
8. Lack of Understanding
The Product Owner cannot be true to his role if he does not understand the Scrum framework or the needs of his customer.
9. Not empowered
There are several business decisions the Product Owner should take. If he is not empowered to make them, the project would not progress on schedule.
10. Fails at prioritizing and refining customer needs
The Product Backlog is an important artifact owned and managed by the Product Owner. He needs to understand the customer needs and priorities, and continuously refine them as per the circumstances.