Let the Team play Product Owner

Today I made a nice but rare experience: team A could play Product Owner for team B.

Team A is settled since several iterations and is working on a new product. Team B is only a few days old and is going to build an internal, technical product to emulate the behavior of depending external hardware.

As the developers and testers of team A are going to be the real users of team B’s product it was obvious to do a short user story workshop with them. So I gathered everyone of team A around a table in the team room bringing some blank index cards and a marker to start with.

I made several interesting observations during the workshop:

  • Some developers show the same behavior as many customers do. They have problems to state what they want to achieve and rather base their statements on the currently planned product features.
  • Some developers think very broad so that new themes and stories emerge no one had thought of before. Of course these stories look obvious afterwards but nevertheless would have been forgotten if the real users were not involved.
  • Some developers fully understand the agile roles and do not care about the technical implementation. “I don’t care how they realize it but I want to have this and that.”

We finished that session with a dozen user stories which will result in many more smaller stories after some backlog grooming. I’m going to do the grooming exercise with the team as well so they have the chance to get more and deeper insights into a Product Owner’s work and responsibility.

A team and it’s Product Owner need mutual understanding and a prospering relationship. In the end it’s again–as almost always–a game of Individuals and Interactions.

Recommendation to Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches: let the team play Product Owner every now and then.

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