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no product owner

 
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Joshua Kerievsky wrote an article about elminimating the product owner role.

My team have a lot of customers (we are an internal team and our customers are other development teams.). While the developers on the team regularly talk to them, we talk about technical things. Not priorities. The Product Owner negotiates with other managers and prioritizes. This seems like a hugely important role. And one that would take up a lot of the rest of the team's time if he wasn't doing it.

I'm curious if our team's customer base is why this idea seems crazy to me.
 
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I read that article a couple of weeks ago. Let's unpack some of the ideas from article.

Regarding prioritization, he writes:

Joshua Kerievsky wrote:Product management has a voice in this community, but they don’t “own” prioritization or planning. Developers and testers and UX people also have a voice in planning and prioritization.


The idea of a charter and chartering is central:

If you observe a team that shares ownership of planning and prioritization, you’ll be delighted to see that everyone is continuously paying attention to and discussing what is most important to do and how to spend the time wisely. Without chartering, this work can get messy. Chartering is crucial to eliminating a product owner role. Yet chartering isn’t a silver bullet. Good risk management is always essential. The team must go after the highest value work, while managing the key risks.


In the closing paragraph:

...what I’ve described here is exactly how their PO functions. In that case, I would say that “Product Owner” is no longer their role. When a team works together to achieve an important outcome, they co-own the work. When that happens, you have replaced product owners with communities that collectively own the work of achieving inspiring outcomes. I find that is far superior to having a Product Owner.



I haven't seen this first-hand so I can't really speak to whether it works in practice or not. Seems like it might be worth experimenting with though.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Junilu Lacar wrote:

Joshua Kerievsky wrote:Product management has a voice in this community, but they don’t “own” prioritization or planning. Developers and testers and UX people also have a voice in planning and prioritization.



I don't really understand this. Lots of people have a voice in prioritizing. We give input to our Product Owner. On features and tech debt and dependencies and suggestions. But it is still his call. Making all decisions by committee feels incredibly time consuming given the number of competing demands we have.
 
Junilu Lacar
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It kind of reminds me of Conway's Law and Reverse Conway's Law. I think if you are seeing problems in your architecture and design, definitely go back to Conways' Law and see how your design problems/flaws are influenced by your team's structure and communication mechanisms. The influence is also there in reverse: changes to your design and architecture also influences your team structure and communication.

If things are working for you the way they are, you probably should just go with it. Don't fix it if it ain't broke. If you think it might improve things for your team or give you significant gains, then it is certainly something you could try. Just remember there's a balance. If you eliminate something that you found useful before, something else has to fill the void to provide that same usefulness or add to what you had before.
 
Junilu Lacar
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Joshua Kerievsky wrote:... you have replaced product owners with communities that collectively own the work


Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Making all decisions by committee feels incredibly time consuming given the number of competing demands we have.


I think there's an important distinction between committee and community. I think having a charter that everyone involved buys into is a key differentiator.
 
Junilu Lacar
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I have had a bit of time to catch up on my reading list so here's a word cloud that's kind of floating around in my head right now:

communication Collaboration Working Software building the right thing Outcomes vs Output
testing experimentation data Design Thinking #noProjects Teams #noEstimates



I don't know why but Josh's idea seems to fit in there somewhere.

Edit: Maybe because #noPO? And Chartering?
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Junilu Lacar wrote:If things are working for you the way they are, you probably should just go with it. Don't fix it if it ain't broke.


Agreed. Still want to understand it though. So I should read up on chartering it sounds like.
 
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I saw this tweet. I like the message:

The goal is not "have a product owner"; the goal is clarity of intent to guide product decisions" ~⁦‪@jchyip‬⁩

 
Junilu Lacar
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Exactly. There's always a balance that needs to be maintained. If someone was doing important things for the team and those things were lumped into something that were labeled "PO's responsibilities" then either those responsibilities need to get picked up by one or more people if you eliminate the PO or you change the way you work so that the result of fulfilling those responsibilities are no longer important for the team. It goes back to a phrase that's getting bandied around more and more these days: Outcomes over Outputs.
 
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Junilu Lacar wrote:It goes back to a phrase that's getting bandied around more and more these days: Outcomes over Outputs.



Without looking for it in particular, I just saw a video last night by Gabrielle Benefield (goto conference) about Outcomes over Outputs.

I think this makes sense (Outcomes over Outputs) and is in line with some other ideas of what could be considered the evolution of Agile
(such as "leveraging the agility from agile")...
 
Junilu Lacar
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Mano Ag wrote:I just saw a video last night by Gabrielle Benefield (goto conference) about Outcomes over Outputs.


Yeah, she's a very good speaker and the ideas she talks about really resonate with me and my own experience doing this stuff.
 
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