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Skills a good Product Owner should Master

Good Product Owners are:

  • Visionary
    • Can come up with a product vision which motivates, inspires and drives the team
    • Aligns the product vision with company’s vision or mission
  • Passionate Problem Solver
    • Should have a knack of identifying real problems and ability to visualize a simple solution to those problems.
    • Has good analytical & problem solving skills
  • Subject Matter Expert
    • Understands the domain well enough to envision a product to solve crux of the problem
    • Able to answer questions regarding the domain for those creating the product
  • End User Advocate
    • Empathetic to end-users problems and needs
    • Able to describe the product from an end-user’s perspective. Requires a deep understanding of users and use
    • Is passionate about great user experience
  • Customer Advocate
    • Understands the needs of the business buying the product
    • Ability to select a mix of features valuable to various different customers
  • Business Advocate
    • Can identify the business value and synthesize the business strategy as measurable product goals
    • Has a good grasp of various business/revenue models and pricing strategies
    • Capable of segmenting the market, sizing it and positioning a product (articulate the Unique Selling Proposition)
    • Is good at competitive analysis and competitor profiling
    • Able to create a product launch strategy
  • Communicator
    • Capable of communicating vision and intent – deferring detailed feature and design decisions to be made just in time
  • Decision Maker
    • Given a variety of conflicting goals and opinions, be the final decision maker for hard product decisions
  • Designer
    • Possess a deep understanding of (product) design thinking
    • Able to work effectively with an evolving product design
  • Planner
    • Given the vision, should be able to work with the team to break it down into an iterative and incremental product plan
    • Capable of creating a release roadmap with meaningful release goals
    • Is feedback driven .i.e. very keen to inspect and adapt based on feedback
  • Collaborator
    • Able to work collaboratively with different roles to fulfill the product vision. Be inclusive and empathetic to the difficulties faced by the members of the cross-functional team
    • Given all the different stakeholders should be able to balance their needs and priorities
    • Empowers the team and encourages everyone to try new ideas and innovate

Disclaimer: This list is based on my personal experience but originally inspired by discussions with Jeff Patton.

In my experience its hard (not impossible) to find someone who possess all these skills. It requires years of hands-on experience.

Some companies form a Product Ownership team, comprising of different people, who can collectively bring these skills to the table. Personally I prefer supporting one person to gradually build these skills.

I amazed how easily companies get convinced that they can send their employees to a 2-day class on Product Ownership and acquire all these skills to be a certified Product Owner.

 

  • http://twitter.com/annua Annu Augustine

    Totally agreed, for a change :-)

  • http://twitter.com/berndschiffer Bernd Schiffer

    I myself made once such a list from a task perspective (see http://agiletrail.com/2011/11/29/37-tasks-for-a-product-owner%E2%80%99s-job ), and I like the way you did yours in a skill perspective. Thanks for this different perspective you’re offering here.


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