Becoming a Scrum Product Owner When the Business Doesn’t Want to Play

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Today I talked with Sebastian Hellmann, who is an agile Product Owner. He brings lots of experience in IT, but only recently began the transition over to agile, initially as a Product Owner.

But he ran into something interesting. His partners in the business were not interested in agile. Ideally, they are the product owners, but since they were not initially part of the agile transformation, Sebastian himself started playing the role of the Product Owner.

And he learned some really fascinating stuff, like it’s really hard to play an agile role you are not the right person for it! He held some very straightforward conversations with his business partners and together they adjusted and adapted.

So this podcast is in part the story of ways that he has successfully adapted agile for his environment. I’m hoping it’s useful to a lot of people because his situation is a very common.

We also had a really interesting talk around agile roles. What they look like they are well occupied, how to recognize what they look like when they are poorly occupied. And ways to fix that. Including what to do when things are messy, which applies to just about everybody. For example, the scrum master reports to Sebastian and that’s already messy by agile standards.

Sebastian also tells a super interesting story about a team who thought they were doing agile because they were doing sprints and scrum events, but who actually was not really doing agile because they were not delivering value at the end of each Sprint, just work. So he worked with them intensively over a month or two, to redefine the definition of done. He also implemented daily retrospective reviews on the user interface that they were developing, because previously the team thought it was fine, but by the time he got to the sprint review, it was clearly not fine in the Product Owner’s view,even though the team wanted to insist it should be accepted.

Last but certainly not least we talked about how to say no and the role of trust, as well as Lean Startup with some related links.

Enjoy the show!

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