Product Owner is a bad bad idea

I think the Product Owner is the worst thing Scrum has visited in the software world.

This is a bad bad idea! – Marie Poppendieck

Mary Poppendieck postulates that the role of product owner is a middleman between the people who do the job and the people who need the job done, resulting in delays, misunderstandings and overload in our software engineering process. . Poppendieck, the author of numerous books on Lean in Software, made this claim at a conference on July 15, titled Develop a Lean mindset in which she explained how a lean mindset was an effective model for providing a rapid response to change.

Mike Cohn, author of User Stories and signatory of the Agile manifesto, retweeted his post on the same topic on June 11. He wrote Is it time to remove the role of Product Owner from Scrum, asking “Teams are supposed to make technical decisions collaboratively, so why not do the same for product decisions? “

Cohn and Poppendieck seem to agree that we should redistribute responsibility for product decisions to software engineering teams as joint responsibility, as we already do for testing and architecture is a privileged way to improve our ability to create software and react more quickly to change. .

Cohn says this would require developers to “go beyond seeing yourself as code monkeys. Poppendieck sees this as a return to the original mindset of engineering that she says lost software in the 1990s. Many others raise similar concerns about the role of product owner. , although the analysis of the root cause and potential solutions varies greatly.

In The great challenge of the Product Owner, Nigel Thurlow maintains that the ownership of the product is not broken; it is how the role is performed within an organization and how organizational inertia prevents it from making the necessary changes.

Here is a selection of titles from other commentators who have addressed the issue:

Most of the articles discuss how to create great product owners, but reveal the difficulty many find in trying to deliver well using the role.

In a research article tweeted by Jeff Sutherland, founder of Scrum, the authors also highlighted the tendency for roles to be distorted by organizations corrupting Agile to fit their traditional structures. Why you can’t evolve:

In summary, there is an emerging theme in the literature that the original balance of the roles of scrum master, product owner and team is adapted, merged and possibly corrupted, to meet the needs of organizations moving from cascade…

Summarizing a variety of elements, we can see that as we evolve Agile and its use becomes the norm, the role of product owner may not be an obvious need or an obvious fit to the situation. InfoQ has covered many aspects of this complex role over the past 10 years, including: team collaboration according to Henrik Kniberg’s ideas; product owner models and scaling with the product owner; the breadth and depth of the discussion has grown steadily. Any organizational design involves the complexity of the context and complex human interactions. Whether the role of Product Owner is good or not is clearly dependent on many factors, including team maturity, organizational maturity, type of organization, organizational complexity, and the Product Owner himself.


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About Byron G. Fazio

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