Product Agility

A blog about agile product discovery and delivery,
collaboration, and continual improvement

Am I a Product Manager or a Product Owner? Part 2

In part 1 of this blog, I outlined the confusion between what a Product Manager does and what a Product Owner does. The difference and overlaps between product management and product ownership work illustrated how activities span both strategic and tactical product management.

With confusion of roles and titles, a team can suffer with mixed product outcomes. I find this confusion to be widespread and I propose five ways to untangle the roles and responsibilities mess to move from confusion to clarity.

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Am I a Product Manager or a Product Owner? Part 1

With the maturing of the software industry and with an overwhelming acceptance of agility, I am still surprised at the inconsistency and overall confusion between what product managers and product owners do.

On a panel I participated on this very topic, the presenters had different, sometimes contradictory perspectives. [1] Adding to the confusion, organizations struggling to make sense of the roles and job titles can’t rely on conflicting webinars, white papers, or blogs to clarify roles and responsibilities.

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Streamline Your Agile Requirements by Avoiding Bloated Backlogs

Moving from traditional requirements to user stories seems like a simple task. Identify a user, then get them to tell you what they want and why. No problem, right?

When I first started writing user stories, I really enjoyed the simplicity of the format. It wasn’t until I attended some product workshops that I had a most profound learning moment: We often unintentionally waste brainpower creating bloated backlogs.

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Women of Agile2017

Inspired by Deb Hartmann Preuss’ beautiful Women of XP 2017 blog, I decided to conduct my own appreciative inquiry of women attending Agile2017. Following are the result of my encounters this week at Agile 2017.

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7 Ways of Creating and Sustaining an Agile Product Roadmap

A product roadmap visually depicts how your product will evolve over time to realize your product vision and achieve continual value for your customers and business. (I define the term product to refer to a software application, system, device, service, or a combination that provides value to customers and business partners.)

A product roadmap should be designed to adapt continually, guide decisions, and promote action.

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Structured Conversations to Discover Your MVP

Many product development teams talk about the wisdom of producing great products by iteratively exposing potential customers to small, cohesive product increments. [1] The concept of focusing effort on minimum viable product (MVP) delivery has gained momentum particularly in the agile world. MVPs deliver customer value through successive delivery of small product slices and drives teams to make smarter choices about their product’s future development.

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The 7 Product Dimensions: A Guide to Asking the Right Questions

Upon embarking on my first stint as a product manager, I happened to run into an experienced product executive one day in passing. I asked him for advice and he obliged. He replied rather succinctly: “Ask questions, and then go add value.” He was never one to ramble on. Since then, I’ve taken his advice to heart, asking questions early and often. Now, a few years into my career in the product field, I find myself going a level deeper and asking a new question: Am I asking the right questions to all the right people?

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Slicing User Stories, Delivering Value

Are you on one of the many agile teams struggling with backlogs and user stories? Don’t give up. I teamed up with Jeff Sutherland, CEO of Scrum Inc., to deliver a webinar called “Slicing User Stories”. We focused on helping teams manage their backlogs, improve sprints and release planning, and increase delivered value using practices Mary Gorman and I wrote about in Discover to Deliver.

Here’s a summary of what we discussed. And stay tuned; I’ll go deeper into this in an upcoming webinar with the Scrum Alliance on March 15th.

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Five Ways a Product Owner Can Build Trust

For project teams to work together effectively, team members and stakeholders need trust. Each team member (product managers and owners, leaders, subject matter experts, and technical staff) have different roles and different interests.

As a product owner responsible for defining (and refining) the product backlog, you are expected to juggle a variety of issues including: choosing the most valuable work, meeting deadlines, controlling costs, incorporating bug fixes, addressing technical debt, ensuring quality, and communicating the changes to your users. If that trust breaks down, your product and process will, too. The result may be hidden agendas, rumors, gossip, no shows to standups, whining, or even subversive behavior.

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Factors for Making Value-Based Product Decisions


Making value-based decisions on what to deliver and when it needs to be delivered is one of the most important responsibilities of product ownership. What exactly is value? Value is fair return in goods, services, money, or some other benefit in exchange for something.

Value is what you get in exchange for what you give. In software development, we tend to identify value in terms of features. They are related to be sure, but quite different. Features as cohesive bundles of functionality that align with business goals and objectives. Features can come in various formats and levels of granularity, including user stories, minimum marketable features, minimum viable product, epics, and so on.

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