A Product Mastery Twitter Q&A

February 6th, 2017 Published by Geoff Watts

On Monday evening (in the UK) I held my first live Twitter Q&A; inviting questions about being a product owner to celebrate the release of my new book, Product Mastery.


selfie q&a

Here’s what we chatted about.


Can the product owner be the ScrumMaster as well?

Geoff: “It rarely ends well due to conflict of interest & time constraints. Wearing different hats may make it easier.”

David: “What do you really feel when one person has both SM & PO hat in hand?”

G: “I think the team (and product) is SO much better served with a great PO and a great SM”

D: How do you deal with Orgs when “when one person has both SM & PO hat in hand?”

G: I think that’s a great opp to talk about experimenting. Burnout is a big risk here too IMO

D: “Why wouldn’t the rules of the Scrum process come into play here?” – David

G: “Rules are good; situational management is great. Great product owners (and ScrumMasters) can use both.”


What are the biggest challenges for a PO?

G: “Time, making decisions with incomplete information, trusting the team, dealing with reality they might not like.”

D: “Doing all the PO stuff while somehow magically doing the Prod. Mgmt stuff that needs to happen.”


PO & SM no authority on Dev Team. Who has authority? To add / remove. Self organising team?

G: “Tough one. Many right answers. Best I’ve seen is to collaboratively reflect & evaluate as a team.”

G: “Many great teams are able to work with the knowledge of who holds the final say on membership.”

I&S Locums: “True. Retrospective key to having that debate. Find teams often to afraid to change during product life cycle.”

G: “Great PO will notice these nuances in team behaviour and energy and gently start that conversation before retro.”


How to be decisive when you don’t know everything needed to make a decision?

G: “Do some research, decide when a decision is needed, accept no decision can be perfect, ask for help & decide to trust yourself.”

I&S: “Should a decision be made quickly rather than gather all available data, analyze, & THEN decide? Analysis pralaysis?”

G: “Due diligence is a good thing. There is also a lot to be said for “making good mistakes quickly”.”

D: “Could you expand on meaning of “accept no decision can be perfect”?”

G: “In an uncertain, complex and fast-changing world trying to make a “perfect” decision can be paralysing and is unhelpful”

G: “Good product owners delay when they can. Great product owners decide when they must.

D: “I’d suggest that a measure of intellengence is ability to leave options open.”

Melissa: Two quotes come to mind: “Make the best decision you can with the information available” and “When you know you cannot anticipate, prepare to innovate.”

M: “What is the least expensive way to test our theory? What decisions can we delay to the last responsible moment?”

G: “Sounds like something a great product owner would say, Melissa!”


What in-person training would you recommend for a CSPO looking to stretch his skills/understanding?

G: “I have found training in self-awareness and emotional intelligence (coaching) to be really useful.”


What % time do you recommend spending on scrum process v product development?

G: “The process should always be 100% in support of product development. Not all product development should be process.”

Caroline: “Agree, but sometimes Agile is silent on product development, e.g. Lean UXUI. Prod dev much more than just scrum.”

G: “Definitely more than just Scrum…and being silent can be a blessing.”

C: “Blessing if PO experienced and with solid mission. Curse if either absent.”


What’s your recommendation to build a compelling backlog for a “just make it the same as the old one” project?

Andy: “Great question and something I’ve seen a lot, especially when team are forced to migrate to new infrastructure.”

G: “I’d challenge the vision of “just make it the same” – seems like a wasted opportunity to make it better.”

Irene: “Easier said than done :)”

G: “And this is where the great product owners come to the fore.”

M: “Are you asking how to make the “same old” more compelling bc change isn’t an option?”

I: “I’d rather have them built something better to start with. Let go of some of the old things.”

Alexandre: “I answered once with “there you have it, use the old one”. Reaction was unsatisfying.”

Davor: “I’d go with challenging the process(es) they have; then compare with the old app’s features.”

G: “What value does rebuilding the old give more than the new?”

I: “Securing old functionality. Not sure if they have statistics on how much of the old system was used.”

What inspired you to write your book and how long did it take to complete?

G: “Just over 2 years. Inspired by response to & POs asking for stories and advice: .”


Thanks to everyone who chatted with me,

I’ll do another one soon! #AskGeoff





February 6th, 2017 Published by

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