Product Vision : The Key Role and Responsibility of Product Owner

Continuing with the discussion on Product Owner role and responsibilities, and based on two excellent comments from Martizza and SJJH, let us review the key role and responsibility of the Product Owner. One can argue that the four skills/ competence areas highlighted in the Who can become a Product Owner post along with people management and interaction skills, help the Product Owner articulate, defend and refine the Product Vision. One can also argue that this is a separate skill and competence area and some people can just be better at this job even if they do not have the domain knowledge, are not technically sound or have the necessary experience. What will these people then typically possess? I think it would be a mixture of ability to learn [learn very fast], a highly analytical mind [capable of drawing analogies], intuition [strong emotional connect with real and abstract] and a thinking mind [one that can think even when it does not know it is thinking]. These people would generally believe hopelessely in what they are working on – and it is this belief and the conviction that helps them exude the product vision. Hence, when one is looking to appoint or hire someone for Product Owner position, one should see if they identify with the product and what are the ideas they bring to the table. If the connect is established, the rest of the work would flow a lot better.

So, what exactly does a Product Owner do with the Product Vision. They do 03 things:

1. Define the Product Vision – This involves close connect with the customers and market needs. Hence, domain expertise and exposure to tech support/ marketing comes in handy. Further, exposure to some sort of modeling methods helps the Product Owner define the product vision. Often, the Product Vision phase can take long. As a Product Owner, you may consult other domain experts, technical team or embark on marketing feasibility studies to confirm and reconfirm the vision.

2. Articulate the Product Vision – This is more important than 1. Typically, the Product Owner should be available to the development team anytime and everytime. The Product Owner should be able to sit down with different team members – together, in groups or alone – and discuss aspects related to the product – what will happen in 02 years, 02 months and what do they think could happen. This helps build the trust and orients the developers from a Product Owners perspective – a key requirement to build a great product. One of the means available with the Product Owner, to articulate the Product Vision is Product Backlog and ceremonies like Sprint Planning, Sprint Review help achieve this too.

3. Refine the Product Vision – Each time the Product Owner meets people from marketing, sales, technical support, development team, testing team or customers – they will keep uncovering new things about the product. It could just be new technology [Google Wave was launched a few days back for instance] or a new trend [micro-blogging and social media]. This can represent opportunities or threats. Product Vision is not stagnant. It is dynamic.

If a Product Owner can take care of the Product Vision, the Product would largely take care by itself.

5 Responses to “Product Vision : The Key Role and Responsibility of Product Owner”

  1. […] From here we get requirements, and the basis for accepting or rejecting review items. Vision is the key role and responsibility of the Product […]

  2. Absolutely! So how do you think a firm should go about identifying people for this role (internally or externally)? I am a UPO and am naturally passionate about my field and IT, but I am actively searching (as you can see from my blog content) for the ultimate PO recipe.

    • First, they have to agree to play the role.
      Second, they should know that the role does not come with any power what so ever – all you get to do is think about and talk about how the product will be a success. Your role is to get buy in from everyone. Can you do that?

      • That’s an interesting thought. I’m guessing this depends greatly on your stakeholders and end users, but in my company we actually need to wield a great deal of authority. In our implementation of agile, the PO gathers information from workgroups and stakeholders, but then needs to make a decision that best represents the needs they expressed. In our case, stakeholders are all executive level and have little interest in day-to-day decisions, which means we MUST make them or we get very odd results.

        In your situation, who does make decisions on day-to-day priorities? Is everything deferred to end users?

  3. […] From here we get requirements, and the basis for accepting or rejecting review items. Vision is the key role and responsibility of the Product […]

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