Qualities of A Good Product Owner – 352 Noodles & Doodles

We’ve talk a lot about how agile web development has affected our staff. From our project managers becoming servant-leaders to helping our developers learn to speak up in meetings, agile has dramatically shifted the way we work. Our logo even changed to represent both our 5 values and the 5 members of a development team, circling around the client in the center. So what does it mean to be in the center of that circle?

Mostly, it means that you’re a card-carrying member of your development team. And while that comes with a lot of benefits for you and your web project, it also comes with some responsibilities. In this week’s episode of 352 Noodles and Doodles, development team coordinator Jennifer Fix and interactive designer Nick Forneris walk us through what makes a client into a great product owner.

Photo credit: visualpun.ch

Transcript below:

Nick: Hi everyone, I’m Nick Forneris. I’m an interactive designer at 352.
 
Jennifer: And I’m Jennifer Fix, and I’m a Scrum Master for 352. Today we’re gonna be talking to you about qualities that make a good product owner.
 
Nick: One of the first qualities that really helps us is complete ownership of the product. We want to immerse ourselves in your product, your service. It’s also important for you to immerse yourself in our process of developing your site or your application. Teaching us all the ins and outs. We’ll become more familiar with everything you’re trying to do. That ownership makes us really take it to the next level. We want to make sure that you’re really happy with it, and so are we. We’re both working together on that.
 
Jennifer: The second one is focus. We know that as a product owner, you have a lot going on. You have a lot of responsibility. And it’s not feasible to say that you’re never going to work on anything other than our project. With that said, it’s helpful that when you are working with us, you’re 100 percent focused on what we’re talking about. You’re engaged in the conversation. It goes back to being immersed and taking ownership the way that Nick was talking about. What that helps us do is know that you’re
part of the process, you’re engaged with us as though you’re a part of the team. And it allows you to provide better insights and more of your expertise inside of our process. So the more focused you can be, the more it’ll help us build you a more successful product.
 
Nick: Another thing that’s really important is remaining flexible. Throughout the process we’re going to shift priorities up and down based off what we think we’re going to need at the time. We want to hear all your wildest dreams, anything you could possibly ever want. And then we’re going to work together to distill those down into launch-able chunks basically. Being able to move in between everything you could ever want, and something that we should do, versus what we could do. Because we could do anything we want if we had enough time. Being flexible with an iterative process, we’re going to do a release, we’re going to see what user feedback we can get, and we’re gonna keep improving and honing those releases to make a better product as we go.
 
Jennifer: The next one is transparency. Because of the fact that we’re working on a daily basis with you, you’re gonna be a part of all our meetings. You’re gonna be part of every conversation we have about your project. It’s really important that you feel like you can be honest with us and transparent about the things you feel that are going well, the things you think could be going better, any concerns you have about our progress, the way the site’s being built. If we don’t know how you feel, we’re not going to know whether or not we need to make changes. And we expect that you expect the same from us. Just as we are asking for you to be transparent and honest, we are going to come to the table with that transparency and honesty as well. And that is going to help the whole team have a lot more trust and build a lot of camaraderie.
 
Nick: Speaking of camaraderie, something else that’s really important is trying to stay positive throughout the entire process. We certainly want to hear when things are going well, when you’re liking things. We also want to know when it’s not jiving with you and not looking towards your dream. Throughout all that, staying positive and keeping spirits alive and keeping morale high is really important. Because it really helps the team stay on track. It helps you know what we’re doing at all times. It’s really helpful throughout the entire process to keep your head up and stay positive. It can get really complicated and mind-bending as we get going, so keeping the spirit up is really important.
 
Jennifer: The last one we wanted to talk to you about is team advocacy. Because you’re going to be part of such a huge part of our team, you’re going to get to know the ins and outs of the process. You’re going to understand the way we’re building things, why we’re building things. And your team from your company might not understand it on the same level. It’s your responsibility to serve as the liaison between our team that’s developing your project and your team that we’re developing it for. This is going to help deal with any concerns your team may have about progress or decisions. If we know that you’re out there and supporting us and backing us up, it’s gonna make us feel a lot more confident about what we’re doing and help your team to feel a lot better about the time and energy we’re spending building this together.
 
Nick: So I hope that this was really helpful, and we’ll see you next time.
 
Jennifer: Thank you.