Being a Product owner has been the most interesting, and yet, the most challenging role for me so far.
There are fantastic companies and environments where Product Owner really means Product Owner, where Product Owner really acts as one. I hope that you’ll have a chance to work in such companies, as being a Product Owner is an incredible journey. I was lucky enough to be in that position.
I remember that amazing feeling when for the first time I have actively participated and approved design and workflow for my first web application. Do you remember your first assignment?
Unfortunately, there are some companies which label a position as a Product Owner, although, they don’t expect for you to act as one, while insisting that this exactly what they need.
Product Owner really sounds powerful, however, if you’re not empowered by your organization, you’ll end up administering product or being an information channel for the person(s) that truly owns it.
Some companies are strictly sales driven. Sales department is completely dictating the strategy and product vision. Product owner in this scenario, is just conveying sales’ team message, acting as a traffic light or forwarder and having little to no saying in the matter.
In this case, Product Owner role is misleading for the person who wears it (and the team).
Also, how many times have you heard that Product Owner has to say NO? And there you are, trying to manage client’s expectations (trying to say NO), however, upper management is not backing you up showing you there’s NO way for you to say NO. Because we all know – customer is always right.
This feels like customer is completely and ultimately owning a product, you’re just a customers’ PA.
Isn’t it great – you have all the responsibility, but no rights?
Think about it, this persons’ role shouldn’t be labeled as Product Owner. How would you name it?
On the other hand, have you ever ended up in an environment where you’re surrounded with a team with extensive knowledge of the product and industry? And there you are, trying to be a Product Owner, while earning teams respect is very difficult and challenging? Have you ever felt like a Product administrator (again), while trying to acquire necessary knowledge, but, as we all know, it takes some time? In this case, you can become a Product Owner, it just takes some time and sweat.
Long story short – Product owner and the team own the product, unless company is mistaken.
And, be careful when applying for Product Owner position, ask the right questions to understand whether that company has a clear picture of your role within their organization.