Product Ownership: 10 Core Principles

When you boil it down, what does it take to be a great product owner? It’s easy (and tempting) to overcomplicate things. Often we focus on the “higher level” aspects and theory of the function, and forget the basics. In my mind, it all centers around your relationship with your team.

10 Core Product Ownership Principles

  1. Build trust. Without the trust of your team you have nothing.
  2. Respect your team, your customers, and your partners
  3. Prove your worth. You aren’t a status-checker along for the ride. You have a function (multiple functions actually). Do the work to build trust, build respect, and empower the team.
  4. Outcomes over features. Focus on delivering great outcomes to your customers. Nothing is more discouraging for a team than delivering great software that no one needs, or not knowing whether your work had impact.
  5. Communicate efficiently. Boil everything down to an actionable message. You are the noise and distraction filter. Synthesize ruthlessly so others don’t have to.
  6. Build an action framework. Provide the data, direction, and exposure necessary for autonomous decision making. Let the team take credit for their solution.
  7. Decide and facilitate appropriately. Sometimes the team needs a decider. Sometimes the team needs help making a decision. And sometimes you need to just get out of the way. Act accordingly.
  8. Run great meetings.
  9. Focus on team needs. How can you help your team today? What do they actually need? Focus there.
  10. Have fun. If you view product ownership as a battle between you and the team, then no one will have fun. Keep it light and positive.

That’s it. Not too complicated. But no one said it would be easy!

Written by

Multiple hat-wearer. Prod dev nut. I love wrangling complex problems and answering the why with qual/quant data. @johncutlefish on Twitter.

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