5 Reasons Why a Product Owner Team Might Be a Good Idea
By Marc Löffler
Last week, I have read an article that stated that the The product owner is a unicorn.
I kept thinking about this for a few days and came to the conclusion that in some environments a product owner team would be a better fit. But what could be a good reason for a product owner team?
One good reason might be a shared responsibility. In some companies it seems to be difficult to define the one and only PO with all needed responsibilities. Even worse, I saw product owners, whose decisions were overruled by their bosses and managers. This does not only have a demotivating effect on the PO, but also the development team becomes insecure when working with her. When you have a PO team, it is much more difficult to overrule them.
Another good reason for the team approach is the diversity you get when you have a team. My ideal PO team consists of a product manager, one person from marketing, one from UX, and a techie. That way you have all needed knowledge in the team to create an awesome backlog. I saw a lot of bad POs who were unable to create a good backlog, because they missed some knowledge in an important area (for example, the market or technical know how). This will all vanish if you have a PO team.
Ever heard about ScrumMasters taking over the role of the PO when he is not available? Bad idea! But it does happen and not only once. This is another good reason for a PO team. Even if one or two members of the team are not available (ill, on vacation), the team is still able to work. No availability issues anymore.
A good backlog is the result of great teamwork. I never saw a backlog that was created by a single person and still was in a good shape. I know that there are no rules that the PO should be the only person to create new items in a backlog, but many teams think so. A PO team forces them to work together. Of course they still have to work tightly with the development team, do backlog grooming sessions or even ask a developer to help to maintain the backlog. A PO team will help to foster the collaboration in a team.
Last but not least, working in a team is much more fun. I know this should be also the case if you have a single PO, but I never saw a PO that sat in the same office or even floor than the development team. I even saw POs that were not only sitting in the same office but at a completely different location. With a PO team you force them to work at the same location and I swear it is much more fun to work this way.
What do you think? What are your experiences with POs? Do you also think that the role of the PO is a unicorn? I’m looking forward to your comments.
Marc Löffler works as Functional Manager at Storz Endoskop Produktions GmbH in Switzerland. His passion is to help teams implementing agile frameworks like Scrum and XP and to transform our world of work. You can read more from Marc on his blog.