Archive for July, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Product Owner


If you have not seem “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (1966), now is a good time! I think this article is valuable anyway, but will probably make more sense if you have seen it.

Angel Eyes is a ProductOwner at One Man Army Inc. He is an ambitious manager eager for a promotion and to grow in the ranks of the company.

Tuco is a ProductOwner at Texas Inc. He has some ambition, but his main concern is to save his own ass. He was brought from Mexico Acme for a good sum, and he does not want to loose his job, that’s his main goal.

Blondie also works at Texas Inc. He is ambitious but has also a good sense of commitment with the company and his colleagues.

In any project, there is an underlying conflict between the personal interests of the PO and the interests of the company in which he works. A ProductOwner will always have a personal agenda in projects.

A ScrumMaster must be watchful and try to identify what are the misalignments in the interests of the Stakeholders and the interest of the ProductOwner in order to achieve a better success rate in delivery.

As a ScrumMaster you have to be very mindful of what type of ProductOwner you get.

Angel Eyes is very ambitious and only thinks on himself. He is likely to disregards how risky some of the items in the Product Backlog are. He seeks greatness blindly. Angel Eyes will probably end up dead.

Tuco is scared for his job, and is likely to disregard how much value an item in the ProductBacklog may generate for the company if that item carries a risk. He will not take any chances and wants easy wins. Tuco will end up alive, but penniless.

Blondie is ambitious, but his commitment with the company shows up. His interests seem to be very much aligned with the company and he is more likely to be a good ProductOwner. Blondie will finish alive and with the dough.

In any case, a tool a ScrumMaster has to mitigate the potential misalignment of interests between the Stakeholders and the ProductOwners is through transparency.

If your PO does not care about risks, give focus to spread this information. If your PO is scared and misses ROI opportunities, be sure to inform all involved that there is a prize to be taken. If your PO seems aligned, insist on Transparency so he won’t loose track.

A well informed Stakeholder is likely to leverage his influence on the PO to consider risks and take advantage of opportunities.

Transparency, transparency, transparency…