Recommendations for someone new to the Product Owner role?

I often get questions of the form of “How do I start this (practice/role)?”  Recently, I got the following question (details altered to protect their identity):

I’m a manager with a local company who works mainly as a product owner and internal customer point of contact for site content and project requests. I work very closely with our development, design and UX teams to bring projects to fruition and while our teams adopt Agile methods to run our projects, I lack that essential background education about Agile that I know would benefit me in my role and my career. As a non-developer, can you suggest any courses or training that would fit the bill for that ‘Agile 101’ kind of knowledge that I’m looking for? I would really appreciate any direction you can lend–thanks!

For these types of questions, I tend to recommend trainers and online courses that I know and I feel do a great job of (a) providing good foundational knowledge, (b) provide resources for additional learning, and (c) work well with the local or broader agile community.  I also recommend folks connect with their closest agile user group.  There is nothing better than finding someone local that can share their experience.  Offer to buy them a beverage or lunch for an in-depth chat.

Here was my specific response:

Probably your best approaches is to go for a 2-day Product Owner (CSPO) course. There are a couple coming to Orlando soon in September and I can say that both Marcos and Lonnie are excellent trainers. Check out course listings at: https://www.scrumalliance.org/courses-events/course.aspx?country=United%20States&state=FL&city=Orlando&zip=&type=Cspo;&trainer=&language=&startdate=8/12/2015%2012:00:00%20AM&enddate=1/1/1900%2012:00:00%20AM&discount=False&page=1&orderby=StartDate&sortdir=&radius=80&view=map

If the face to face course is a challenge due to time commitment or finances, you might want to look at the online product owner course from Agile4All athttp://www.agileforall.com/courses/8020-product-ownership/ It’s probably 1/5 the cost of the face-to-face course, but you’ll miss the benefit of asking questions live and (even better) hearing from other folks in the class that are also struggling with the PO role.

Another option is “topic specific” online training athttp://frontrowagile.com.com

Yet another option is to join us for one of our Agile Orlando  (morning) Lean Coffee Q&A or (evening) Burndown with Beverage sessions where you can meet other local folks who have lived the PO role and can share their experience.

Full disclosure: Marcos provided an excellent session on  facilitation earlier this year at Agile Orlando.  I know Lonnie from conferences and have attended her sessions.  I’ve only briefly met Richard Lawrence (80/20 Product Ownership online course) at Agile4All, but I know others at Agile4All and some of them have done excellent talks at South Florida Agile Association and Tampa Bay Agile (part of our Agile Florida network).  I know several trainers who have published courses on Front Row Agile and I feel confident recommending the material without reviewing it all.

What else would you recommend for someone just starting out in the Product Owner role?  Please share  your comments below so everyone can continue the learning.

Wish I had remembered to share Roman Pichler's site with this person.  Excellent resources there.

Scrum Product Owner (via Roman Pichler)

P.S. If you haven’t checked out Roman Pichler’s site and book as a PO, you are missing out!

3 responses to “Recommendations for someone new to the Product Owner role?

  1. Thanks for the recommendation of my 80/20 Product Ownership course, Mark, but I wouldn’t consider it an alternative to an in-person CSPO. It picks up where most CSPO classes leave off and gives participants a deep dive into just the skills around finding high-value slices at different levels of detail. When I teach the 80/20 PO skills in-person, it’s usually on day 3 of a PO class or during coaching for people who’ve been in at least an intro to Scrum class already.

    • @Richard – Thanks for the clarification. I wasn’t implying that it was a substitute. However, in encountering many people who do not have access to the budget for a full CSPO course, I try to get them started somewhere. I’ve reviewed the online course and I still feel it hits some key points to help people on the Product Owner journey. I’m grateful that you and Agile4All provide this valuable resource.

  2. Mark, the product owner’s role is probably the most neglected role in Scrum. I’ve been writing a lot lately about PO’s and I would love to bring this discussion to our next Burndown with Beverage meeting 🙂

    Thanks for the recommendation! 🙂

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