My Product Owner Is Stronger Than Yours!

Better late than never but I found out about Quora this week and decided to try it and pop the question:

What do you never want to hear your Product Owner say?

I’d been meaning to write a post about Product Owners for a while and had done extensive (although utterly non-scientific) surveys of friends, developers, Scrum masters, Agile consultants and clients of our agile project management tool. They pulled through and so did Quora for that matter! pg79

Here are the Top 11 things you never want to hear from a Product Owner:


  1. ‘Cause I’m the Product Owner – A Product Owner is collaborative by nature. He works with the team to decide what is to be done, so pulling that card might not be the greatest idea. The “this is a much higher priority” card however is free-game!
  2. This is non-negotiable – 80% of the Product Owner job is negotiating – with priorities, with the stakeholders, team members, etc. Everything is negotiable… until the sprint has started. pg79th
  3. I don’t really care either way – The Product Owner cares about everything related to the product. With a passion. Not just the product. Client, team members, stakeholders, everything.
  4. The stakeholders will be happy – Aiming for Stakeholder happiness is a crappy goal. The product Owner’s job is to aim for end user happiness.
  5. Yeah, this is good enough – It’s never good enough. It has to be INCREDIBLE to be good enough. One of the PO’s hardest job is saying “no” to team members.
  6. I’m currently unavailable but leave me a message and… – During a sprint, the Product Owner has to be available to answer the team’s questions about certain features. If he’s not, it becomes an  and you don’t want impediments.
  7. I’m not technical enough – Product owners do not need to be technical or understand the technical details. They need to understand users and user-functionality.
  8. Just one last thing … – This is something a Product Owner should never say in the middle of a sprint! You’re not Colombo… your job is to prioritize the backlog! If something is so important it cannot wait until the next sprint – that’s fine, it happens – you need to review the sprint backlog’s prioritize and decide which stories you’re going to swap it with. blowie
  9. What should we do next?  What the hell are we paying you for? That is exactly why the Product Backlog needs to be in tip-top shape and ordered by priorities, we don’t add stuff randomly as we go!
  10. I don’t know my users  A Product Owner always strives to know his users better and make sure his product answers their need.! It’s a challenge and what I want to hear is: What can we do to know our users better?
  11. The Product Backlog is full  Say that again? I’m thinking oxymoron here? A Product Backlog is ever evolving and therefore, can never be emptied. You can decide that it will not add value to continue burning the backlog, but it is never full. quoras


Overall these were the things that came up most often when talking to Agile practitioners. Whether you’re a Stake Holder, Scrum master, Developer, Engineer, Business Owner or executive, we all have something we don’t want to hear from a Product Owner!


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