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Is your PO role working for the business?

I've never met a Scrum team that was highly performant (one commonly stated end goal) that did not have a highly engaged and participatory Product Owner.  I've also not met one person that can do all that that role requires for Scrum teams and the business.  Yes, Scrum's model simplification may mislead organizations into believing that the role is one and only one person.  It was designed this way for very valid reasons - to quit thrashing teams and increasing focus, also a form of limiting work in process, the concept of the PO as the one-ringable-neck responsible for the ROI of the team.

However this simplification rarely addresses the needs of the total business.  Here's a great article on the expansion of this simplification.

The Product Manager vs Product Owner by John Peltier

I've worked with numerous teams in my 10 years of guiding Agile transitions.  And reflecting upon all those teams, there success levels, the customer & team satisfaction with the product & process, and then generalizing a common pattern - the one key success factor is an engaged person playing the Scrum role of Product Owner.  The anti-pattern also holds true.  When there is a lack of Scrum's Product Ownership, the teams suffer, the product suffers, the adoption of the process suffers and therefore the original intent of the Agile transition sponsor reason for changing to an agile process such as Scrum will suffer.

At Navteq I saw an engaged product manager take on the role of Scrum PO in the very first session of a 3 day workshop to launch the new team & project.  The activity was for the group to write their elevator statement.  This person engaged with the activity, intuitively understood that this very abstract vision of the product would set a tone for how the team would understand the value they could deliver to the organization.  He did not dictate the statement, but facilitated receiving and sharing the visions he had and integrating the words and phrases that the newly forming team created.  After that activity, the group was well upon it's way toward becoming a team.  The next day, the PO had committed to memory the elevator statement and could recite it, as well as elaborate upon any of it's aspects.  He created a highly aligned team to the purpose they were to deliver for the organization.

See Also:
20 Product Owner Anti-Patterns in Scrum by Luis Goncalves
Do you need a Product Manager AND a Product Owner?

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David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

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What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.

Introduction

Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

Elements of an Effective Scrum Task Board

What are the individual elements that make a Scrum task board effective for the team and the leadership of the team?  There are a few basic elements that are quite obvious when you have seen a few good Scrum boards... but there are some other elements that appear to elude even the most servant of leaders of Scrum teams.









In general I'm referring to a physical Scrum board.  Although software applications will replicated may of the elements of a good Scrum board there will be affordances that are not easily replicated.  And software applications offer features not easily implemented in the physical domain also.





Scrum Info Radiator Checklist (PDF) Basic Elements
Board Framework - columns and rows laid out in bold colors (blue tape works well)
Attributes:  space for the total number of stickies that will need to belong in each cell of the matrix;  lines that are not easy eroded, but are also easy to replace;  see Orientation.

Columns (or Rows) - labeled
    Stories
    To Do
    Work In P…

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, …

What belongs on the Task Board?

I wonder about these questions a lot - what types of task belong on the task board?  Does every task have to belong to a Story?  Are some tasks just too small?  Are some tasks too obvious?  Obviously some task are too larger, but when should it be decomposed?  How will we know a task is too large?

I answer these questions with a question.  What about a task board motivates us to get work done?  The answer is: T.A.S.K.S. to DONE!



Inherent in the acronym TASKS is the point of all tasks, to get to done.  That is the measure of if the task is the right size.  Does it motivate us to get the work done?  (see notes on Dan Pink's book: Drive - The surprising Truth about what motivates us) If we are forgetting to do some class of task then putting it on the board will help us remember.  If we think some small task is being done by someone else, then putting it on the board will validate that someone else is actually doing it.  If a task is obvious, then putting it on the board will take vi…

Team Performance Model - by Drexler and Sibbet

Many of you have all heard of the Tuckman model of team dynamics (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing).  It was created in 1966 and has become the most popular model for describing team behavior.  Is it time to level up in your mental model of team dynamics?  Are you ready for a richer more functional model?



Introducing the Team Performance Model by Drexler and Sibbet



Orientation - Why am I here?
"Orientation is about understanding the purpose of a team and assessing what it will mean to be a member.  you need to understand the reason the team exist, what will be expected of you and how you will benefit from membership.  In a new team, these are individual concerns, because the group is only potentially a team.  that is why these concerns are illustrated as occurring in your imagination at an intuitive level.  As a team leader it is important to provide time and space for people to answer these internal questions themselves."

Keys to when Orientation challenges are resolve…