My worst day as a Product Owner in Scrum

As a Product Owner in Scrum, I’ve had my fair share of challenges. There are good days and bad days. But there’s one day that stands out as the worst.

The project

We were working on a product for DNA sequencing. As a laboratory, we had to prove that we could find the right DNA data correctly so that we could submit our codes and data to court. The classical form for pipetting into a plate is a grid of 96 wells – eight rows and 12 columns. I told the developers that it was always at most 96 wells. I guaranteed it. So they hard-coded everything – the database, the user interface, everything – for 96 wells.

The realisation

The product had been in development for close to a year when I realised my mistake. There was one experiment where we had to dilute up to five times, which meant we ended up with five plates in the end. Our “always 96” became an overwhelming 480.

The developers had to go back and rework everything: the application, the database, the user interface. Everything.

It was a tough lesson to learn, but it taught me the importance of being thorough and double-checking my assumptions. As a Product Owner in Scrum, it’s my responsibility to ensure that the team is working with accurate information.

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 certified courses.

If you’re looking to invest in training that transforms and empowers teams to successfully adopt #scrum or #agile, and create high-performance #productdevelopment environments leveraging the agile values and principles, visit

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