With an average US salary of $122,000 — and a top salary of nearly $200,000 — the Product Owner role is in high demand and is well-compensated across industries. Familiar to companies that use Agile and Scrum, it is one of the most influential roles in organizations whose work connects business strategy, customer satisfaction, and iterative processes.
Every winning team has a plan and players who help them achieve successful outcomes. Product Owners help product teams maximize business value for the organization and are experts in maximizing product return on investment (ROI). It’s the Product Owner who facilitates communication between all stakeholders and organizes the Product Roadmap, setting the product team’s priorities as they move towards success.
Pro Tip: Think about the Product Owner as the center of a propeller, where three blades intersect: The product development team, the business, and the customer. It is the PO’s job to maintain a balance between the three through planning, understanding of expectations, and clear communication. Having a Product Owner on a development team facilitates swift completion of Sprints with high-quality product outcomes and customer satisfaction top of mind.
So you want to be a Product Owner
There is a lot to consider before embarking on a Product Owner career, but first, let’s look at who would be best suited. People who are product managers, business analysts, senior business leaders, architects, or anyone else who has the responsibility to help teams understand “what and why” about their products are natural candidates. Successful Product Owners have the ability to understand and articulate the needs of the market, the acumen to discern product priorities, and lastly, have a high degree of empathy for all stakeholders. This all adds up to having a Product Owner mindset.
Being a Great Product Owner
Moving past the basics, here is the mindset needed to be a GREAT Product Owner:
- Customer Passion. Are you more interested in building the RIGHT thing for the customer? Or do you find yourself enjoying the merits of managing risks, dependencies, and timelines? This is important because GREAT product owners are always thinking… “What does my customer want and how can I deliver that efficiently?” Above all else, Product Owners should always be thinking about customer value.
- Collaborative. A basic skill needed for all Product Owners is to collaborate with their 3 stakeholders: Development Team, Business, and Customer. However, great Product Owners love fostering collaboration BETWEEN these stakeholders, particularly when they have some competing priorities.
- Entrepreneurial. Although a Product Owner is likely working for a business they don’t own, that doesn’t mean they aren’t operating like an entrepreneur. A great Product Owner adopts an entrepreneurial mindset in their approach to Product Ownership. The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship defines an entrepreneurial mindset like this: “An entrepreneurial mindset is a set of skills that enable people to identify and make the most of opportunities, overcome and learn from setbacks, and succeed in a variety of settings.” Being invigorated by challenges, learning, and pursuing success is crucial to being a great Product Owner.
As far as skills, there are specific practices and techniques one should know to be a GREAT Product Owner:
- Business Strategy: Effective as translating business strategy to a product strategy
- Business Models: Create a simple business model in minutes (Business Canvas/Lean Canvas)
- Value Prioritization: Effectively compare, prioritize, and weigh the value of different features using areas like strategy, customer insights, market demand, company needs, etc.
- Customer Insight: Techniques to accelerate the process of learning and adapting at a cadence to quickly understand your customers’ needs
- Collaboration: Techniques in collaborating with stakeholders across the enterprise
- High-Performance Teaming: Know how to collaborate with the Product Development team
Pro Tip: You can buy books on these topics. But learning how to apply them with simulations and exercises will help you understand the deeper context of product ownership techniques.
Landing that coveted Product Owner job
The fact that businesses often need multiple Product Owners is great news for job seekers.
That begs the question: How can I land that six-figure Product Owner job? Seasoned Product professionals already have job experience but how about those who have not learned these new techniques? With many of the patterns in Lean-Agile product development recently emerging, most product professionals still haven’t learned these new skills.
So how do you learn what today’s thought leaders are doing to accelerate product leadership and market growth? How can you learn today’s approach used by the world’s greatest product companies like Salesforce, Google, PayPal, AirBnb, Nike, Capital One, Intuit, Spotify, and others?
First, a course on Product Owner basics
One way is to take a course that pulls these patterns together and focuses on product leadership techniques. Scrum Alliance has two levels of courses: the Product Owner (CSPO) and the Advanced-Product Owner (A-CSPO). Each course takes you through a journey of product ownership that gives you tools for bringing great products that customers love to the market faster than competitors. The CSPO course gives you the basic skills of defining your product, aligning products to customer needs, working with teams to effectively build out a meaningful backlog, and more.
Scrum Alliance’s Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) training is certainly worth the time and investment to quickly learn base patterns and frameworks used in Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Agile Product Management.
Next, a course on Agile product strategy
Whether you’re responsible for business strategy or product strategy, our CSPO class will start you off by creating a Product Vision, Roadmap, and Delivery Plan. The Advanced Product Owner (A-CSPO) course will show you how to connect business strategy with a business plan to create the products and services that your customers love.
Your greatest skill will include learning how to communicate with different stakeholders while keeping the product development process moving forward at an Agile pace. These are skills that will serve you well in other areas — from the improved management of product development all the way to the C-Suite.
Our A-CSPO course is designed for Product Owners who want to continue improving their product ownership skills and techniques. It dives deeper into your role as Product Owner and how to effectively communicate and align with stakeholders while defining and maximizing business value.
The A-CSPO class focuses on techniques that expand past business value and Product Backlog optimization, and into managing stakeholders, product discovery, and advanced backlog management.
After experiencing training with real-world examples, exercises, and in-depth discussion, you’ll be able to immediately implement new practices and principles in your workplace, thus, increasing your credibility as a product expert.
Ready to take your first step towards joining this exciting career? Hyperdrive Agile offers regular Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) courses live-online in our interactive, virtual classroom with experienced Agile instructors. If you’re already an experienced CSPO and ready for further learning opportunities, Hyperdrive Agile has you covered, too, with Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) training in the same setting.
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