For me, if I have to think about a really great person that represented ‘great’ Product Ownership, I would have to say Steve Jobs does that for me. I say this because even though Steve Jobs had some failures both personally and professionally, he was a pioneer and had such a great understanding of what the product was all about and was determined to see his desired outcome through.
Steve Jobs Was Daring
For example, he fought really hard to make sure that the iPhone only had one button and was so headstrong on having only one button. There have even been stories of him throwing the prototypes against the wall because they had too many buttons; and as extreme as this was and perhaps even arrogant, we can commend him for being bold and brave for his willingness to take risks and not back down. Some may even say that if it was not for his outrageous dedication to developing the iPhone the way that he did, Apple would have most likely gone under. So in this case, there was indeed value in his madness.
A Great Product Owner Can Collaborate Effectively
Another important point as to why Steve Jobs is a good representation of what it means to be a great Product Owner was that he was able to generate new ideas with others. Johnny Ive for example played an important role in the development of Apple products and to some extent was his muse. This is because they had a really tight collaboration and were constantly in contact with each other, going on walks, coming up with ideas and trying out new things. This was a very special relationship, particularly for Steve Jobs who did not really have a well earned reputation for being a ‘peoples’ person’ but it surely is noteworthy that when it came to developing and improving Apple products, Steve came to the table and opened his mind to new ideas.
For me, this is a really great characteristic to have as a Product Owner, because in my experience in any successful operation, the Product Owner is able to effectively collaborate and enable others to succeed. Furthermore, like Steve Jobs, a good Product Owner knows when they cannot do it all on their own and thus recognizes the value of alternative ideas and working as a team. And the results spoke for themselves; during that working relationship between Steve and Jony, they were able to triple the value of Apple and their product development.
A Great Product Owner Knows the Product Inside Out
Another impressive quality of Steve Jobs was his ability to get up on a stage, show you something as simple as a pencil, tell you why this is the pencil ever and make you believe it. The ability to do this not only takes research and dedication to knowing your product but it also takes interpersonal skills and confidence in what you are doing. More than this, genuine belief and enthusiasm blends into the mix as well. Product Ownership is therefore more than just exercising authority and being in control, but requires you to be the living embodiment of the product and someone who lives and breathes it through and through.
I can promise you that this will not only lead to high-quality product delivery but will also inspire the rest of your team to respect you and walk in the same light as you. That is what it takes to be a great Product Owner.
About Effective Agile
Ralph Jocham is a Change Agent in Scrum // Agile // Coaching // Evidence Based Management and also a Professional Scrum Trainer based in Europe.
As one of the first Professional Scrum Trainers in the world, Ralph has worked directly with cocreator of #scrum, Ken Schwaber, and has played an integral part in the course development of the #PSPO (Professional Scrum Product Owner) as well as the delivery of all #scrum.org certified courses.
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