What is the ratio of Product Owners / teams in your organization?
Please, let’s play a little game: Before reading this post, write your answer in the comment, just a number, you don’t need to explain… do you mind taking the challenge?
Why am i asking? Well… when Scaling Scrum (using the LeSS = “Large Scale Scrum” framework) there is a rule that there should be only one product owner
“There is one Product Owner and one Product Backlog for the complete shippable product”
Here are 4 reasons that explain why:
- ROI over ego
It is common that managers in big organizations to try pull the product in different directions as a result of technical and/or political constraints, this causes the system to be sub-optimized and reduce its effectiveness.
Having a single product owner ensures that priorities are driven by business value and not by ego, prestige or other irrelevant aspects, this one person is accountable for the ROI of the product from a whole product customer centric view.
- Simplicity over Complexity
When having multiple product owners, it is still required to have another person often from marketing or a similar business unit that is focused on managing and synchronizing the work of the other product owners, in addition to the extra people we need (multiple Product Owners) coordination roles are wasteful and creates additional and unnecessary complexity which should be avoided.
- Direct communication over Proxies.
Many will agree that when the developers understand customer needs they deliver better products. Given that Product Owner are mostly busy with prioritizing the requirements, having multiple product owners create a situation in which it is very tempting for the product owner to use her free time and “help” with things such as low level clarification of requirements which is the role of the development team.
This harms the team-customer communication, that can eventually lead developers to develop the wrong requirements, or worst, not care about the customer.
- Empowerment over Micro-management
When having one Product Owner per team, it is common that the Product Owner (as a result of free time and the will to contribute) starts interfering with the team’s work, specifically with execution related decisions such as design choices, team members work distribution and micro-status monitoring.
This dynamic is bad for your organization and results in teams taking less responsibility and a drop in motivation.
These are the main reasons i see.
Got other reasons? Disagree? Please comment.
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May the force be with you,