Facilitating skills for Product Owners
Throughout my career, I witnessed that in the product management world, there are two big misunderstandings:
1- The product owner is a backlog manager
2- The product owner/manager is a mini-CEO, and they should make all decisions.
You've heard a lot about the first misunderstanding, The product owner as a backlog manager, But in this story, I'm going to share some new insights about the second one.
The product owner/manager is a mini-CEO, and They should make all decisions.
I want to remember who created this mini-CEO metaphor for the first time. The core idea of this metaphor was that the product person should be empowered and delegated from the proper management level. But this metaphor has created a big misunderstanding in the product management industry. As a product owner/manager, I need full authority to make all strategic and tactical decisions.
Even in an unrealistic situation, if they've delegated full decision-making authority to you, you shouldn’t make all decisions yourself.
In the real world, to create a successful product, different disciplines need to work together: 1- Software engineering 2- Marketing 3- Sales 4- Customer Support 5- Legal and compliance. This is because they have their unique perspective on the product that is necessary for product success.
You might say, it's ok; after hearing all the voices, I'll decide. But keep in your mind you shouldn't see them as simple feedback. Their domain knowledge, experience, and unique perspective will create a big picture of the product. In a complex environment, the knowledge has been distributed, and a single person does not have a full view of the situation. Or sometimes, you feel that you are conditioned to come up with the vision and roadmap— as in a single, definitive, correct vision and roadmap. A great facilitator can create an environment where all knowledge and perspectives come together and develop a shared understanding of success.
A facilitator is a person who helps a group of people to work together better, understand their common objectives, and plan how to achieve these objectives during meetings or discussions. (Wikipedia)
So, as a product owner/manager, you don't need full authority if you have improved your facilitating skill. I remember when I was a junior product owner, I kept repeating that "Oh, our product does not have a product vision, and our CEO didn't let me create one… he is stupid… he should delegate it to me…."
At that time, I could have been the cause of a workshop for formulating a product vision with the right stakeholders, but it would not happen, and it failed…
How can I improve my facilitating skill?
I propose you start to learn "Liberating structures". Liberating Structures are easy-to-learn microstructures that enhance relational coordination and trust. Liberating Structures introduce tiny shifts in how we meet, plan, decide and relate to one another. They put the innovative power once reserved for experts only in the hands of everyone.
or another good source is: Facilitation techniques
Facilitation is not just a skill for Scrum Masters; This can be valuable and useful for product owners, particularly when you need more authority but would like to be proactive and act as a game changer.
Don't hesitate to share what you think about this story :)