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Debating the Product Owner Role

InfoQ’s picked up a heated debate on the Scrum Development list which is focusing on the rather pesky role of the Product Owner. Namely, who should be a team’s Product Owner? And should the Product Owner be dedicated to a single team or serve multiple teams. As the post points out, most Scrum practitioners are very divided on this topic and they tend to fall into one of two camps: those who think a Product Owner should be responsible for a single team and those who think that a Product Owner can handle multiple teams.

My two cents? Personally, I tend to think that a Product Owner should not divide his or her attention. If the Product Owner is having a hard time finding enough to do, chances are he or she could take a more hands-on role with the team. And given that there is considerable disparity in terms of authority between the team and the Product Owner, I think that Product Owners should be selected from outside of the team, not appointed from within.

Here’s CST Dan Rawsthorne echoing my sentiments on the topic: “I always have a simple answer to ‘who will be your product owner.’ I just ask ‘who are you holding accountable for success? Who has the bullseye on his back? That’s your product owner.’ In my experience, the PO is usually anointed from the outside.”

If you don’t agree with my take on the Product Owner, there are plenty of vocal Scrum practitioners ready to take your side on the Scrum Development list.

Read more on InfoQ (http://www.infoq.com/news/2009/02/product-owner-one-person) or follow the whole thread here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/message/36389.

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Comment from Ewok
Time: April 4, 2009, 8:05 am

Another great debate on LinkedIn’s Scrum Practitioner group as well as Danube’s blog here: http://danube.com/blog/michaeljames/is_the_product_owner_on_the_scrum_team

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