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Fight Zombie Product Ownership with the Product Ownership Evolution Model

Johannes Schartau
Nov 15, 2018 · 6 min read

The Development Team

And yet, the Product Owner is only half the story. Development teams really owning a product, with all the freedoms and responsibilities that come along with it, make a tremendous difference. Scrum’s feedback loops come alive when teams are directly connected to a unifying purpose and are able to see how they contribute to it every day. With real product ownership, Sprint Goals start making sense and the Review becomes a necessity instead of a repetitive waste of time. The people involved don’t just go through the motions, they actually depend on the feedback gathered during Scrum events.

The Product Ownership Evolution Model to the Rescue!

The question is: how do you tackle this issue? Now, I’m a sucker for tools and methods. There are few things I love more than working with a client in a challenging situation, pulling out an idea, a diagram or a drawing, and seeing realization wash over their faces. “That’s it!” they often exclaim. Something was made visible or explicit that had been hidden before. They now have a new perspective on their problems and can work on their own solutions right away. It’s magic!

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How to Use the Product Ownership Evolution Model

Lack of clear product ownership generally leads to one or more of the following issues:

  • Miscommunication, which in turn leads to things being developed that don’t address the original issue
  • Long delivery times
  • Lack of innovation
  • Lack of ownership on behalf of the teams
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What It Shows

One pattern that the creators of the POEM often see, and that we have independently verified as a reliable indicator of Zombie Scrum, is an abundance of roles coupled with a PO and the development team to the far right on the scale. This means neither the PO nor the development team is actually empowered to make crucial decisions on their product. Other people in the organization often pull the strings. That overview itself is often a really helpful first step. However, if you want to break out of Zombie Scrum structures, you will also need to make actual changes.

A Call to Action

With a short discussion using the POEM you can trigger deep conversations that can lead to big changes. It’s a catalytic tool in the ongoing fight against Zombie Scrum. Use it!

Diagnose Your Scrum Team

Are you curious to learn if your organization and team are infected by Zombie Scrum? Why don’t you give the Zombie Scrum Symptoms Checker a try? It’s completely free and anonymous and offers your team a profile that helps you identify the areas for improvement.

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The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

Johannes Schartau

Written by

Johannes is co-founder of the Zombie Scrum Resistance and co-author of the upcoming Zombie Scrum Survival Guide. He works for Holisticon in Hamburg, Germany.

The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

Johannes Schartau

Written by

Johannes is co-founder of the Zombie Scrum Resistance and co-author of the upcoming Zombie Scrum Survival Guide. He works for Holisticon in Hamburg, Germany.

The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

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