Top 10 Ways to be a Great Product Owner – Part 2

Jason Goodman Vbxyfxlgpjm Unsplash (1)

In last week’s post, I shared the first of 10 recommendations on how to become a great Product Owner. In this post, I complete the list by sharing my top 5 recommendations. 

5.) Share your Product Roadmap – Having a Product Roadmap allows a great Product Owner to communicate the next steps that he or she sees in achieving the Product Vision. In having a Roadmap, a Product Owner is quick to remind the stakeholders that he or she represents that this Roadmap is an idea of how the Vision may be achieved over time and that it is not a contract. It can and will change.  

4.) Provide focus with a Product Goal – Having a single Product Goal allows a Product Owner to focus not only the Team, but also the entire organization on the next milestone necessary to achieve the overarching Product Vision. It is a waypoint on the journey toward the vision that can be easily identified and flows naturally from the Product Roadmap. For example, if our mission is to provide “On demand, high quality entertainment any time, anywhere through mobile enabled software”, a corresponding product goal might be “Provide a select of movies to customers in North America by the end of Q3.”

3.) Refine your Refinement – Product Backlog Refinement is one of the most challenging aspects of any team’s adoption of Scrum. Part of this challenge comes from the fact that Scrum doesn’t tell you how to do it – it’s an activity, not an event. This means that Scrum doesn’t provide any guidance on whether it’s even a meeting, let alone how long any meeting should last, who should be invited, etc. Good Product Owners know that they must regularly refine the Product Backlog and that they may need to vary the approach that they take based on the Team that they serve and where they are at regarding their evolution.

2.) “Break it Down” – I am not channeling my inner ‘80s rapper here (to be clear, I am not sure I even have an inner ‘80s rapper). As part of refinement, a great Product Owner is working collaboratively with stakeholders and Developers to break work down into digestible “chunks”; pieces of work that the Developers can complete within 1-3 days of Sprint. While not an official rule in Scrum, this 1–3 day guideline forces the Scrum Team to ensure that the Product Backlog Items that are brought into a Sprint are small enough to really be done in the Sprint. At the same time, it gives the Team time to “inspect and adapt” if the work goes beyond the 1-3 days and learn from their experience via their next respective.  

1.) Prioritize – Similar to Product Backlog Refinement, Scrum assigns the responsibility of “ordering” the Product Backlog to the Product Owner but doesn’t specify how the Product Owner should fulfill this responsibility. A great Product Owner acknowledges that they must prioritize and that if they don’t, they are delegating the order in which the work is done to the Developer. They also have multiple prioritization techniques available to them and recognize that to get to a truly ordered Product Backlog they will have to often employ, multiple diverse techniques.  

So, there you have it, my Top 10 Ways to be a Great Product Owner.  Agree? Disagree?  Want to argue for moving one higher or lower? If so, give me a shout at or better yet, join Jeff’s upcoming course offering, Professional Scrum Product Backlog Management (PSPBM) Skills. You can learn more and sign-up here.