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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Oct 13, 2023

This week, Dan Neumann is joined by Erica Menendez and Phillip Lisenba to explore the Product Owner’s accountabilities, especially when they are filled by a highly technical professional, and how this can impact the Team’s work in positive and negative ways. They share their own Agile experiences dealing with mature Product Owners and what the Agile and the Scrum framework proposes for these cases.


Key Takeaways

  • Challenges and opportunities of dealing with a highly technical Product Owner:

    • The Product Owner’s relationship with the Team will determine the extent of the accountabilities on each side.

    • A strong Scrum Master can help balance the Team out due to the collaboration of a technical Product Owner who has brought a lot to the table and helped the Team create a solution. The Team and Product Owner working in a psychologically safe environment grow together in constant intercommunication.

    • A mature Product Owner helps maintain the balance.

    • A very technical Product Owner can be highly prescriptive and fall into the mistake of making highly predictive sprint plans, and, as a result, developers turn more into coders.

    • The Product Owner has to be able to transfer some of their knowledge to the Team since they won’t always be there to help them.

  • The Scrum Guide remarks that the Product Owner is the “what” person, and the Team is the “how.”

    • The entire Scrum Team is accountable for creating a valuable, helpful increment every sprint. The Product Owner is responsible for a backlog that optimizes value, and there could be a dysfunction if the Product Owner is disconnected and can’t contribute as a partner for a valuable sprint plan.

    • When the Product Owner and the Team can communicate directly, they can take advantage of everyone’s skills; that way, they can leverage everything the Team brings.

    • Everything depends on relationships and communication.


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