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.

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?

or another good source is: Facilitation techniques

Final note

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 :)

Asad

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