Who's the real Product Owner?

Photo by Steven Zucker

Photo by Steven Zucker

What happens when we say a website that sells products is not a product itself?  It is, after all, a channel for selling products. Each product has its own product owner—someone who understands the underlying need, the business case, and how to market the product.  Those product owners are visionaries who deeply understand their products, so aren’t they the ones who should be working with the website Scrum teams?

Let’s imagine further.  If multiple Scrum teams—each with different product owners and focused on different products—are all delivering changes to the same channel, then who is making sure that the overall channel customer experience is good?  Is the channel still a channel?  If it is a product, what does that mean for the other product owners?  Perhaps the answer is that the channel IS a product—one that is designed to achieve the most value for the organization as a whole by serving the needs of customers and the multiple product owners.

It’s unlikely that the multiple product owners will all be happy.  If each product owner has his own goals, is it a zero-sum game?  The decisions made by one product owner for a given product can impact the results of other products present in the channel.  What then?  Which products are most important, and what does that mean?  Who can make such decisions?  Where would a channel-as-product product owner come from?  How can all of these product owners work together for the greater good of the organization and its customers?

I don’t know all of the answers.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.