What is the Product Owner Framework?

The Product Owner Framework is a tool for Product Owners to evaluate their skills and identify areas for growth. It was created by Daisy Pilbrow and Javier Ubillos, an Agile Coach and a Product Owner at Spotify and continues to be developed and expanded upon by Daisy and Viktor Cessan, another Agile Coach at Spotify.

Disclaimer:
This framework is in no way perfect. It’s a work in progress. We created it to help new Product Owners develop their toolbox fast. Despite the holes and the eventual inconsistencies here and there we still felt that we wanted to share this with the world. Hopefully it can help others too.

The Product Owner Framework:
This framework allows you to asses your level of experience in product ownership. It consists of 8 areas that are divided over 4 categories. These categories represent the common push and pull we often see in software development between people and product and between short and long term thinking.

pocf

 

Working with the World

  • Coordination – A Product Owner and her team rarely operate in a vacuum. They usually have connections throughout the organization, not only to their own stakeholders but to teams that they themselves act as stakeholders for (infrastructure teams, etc.). A team may also be asked to collaborate with other teams on larger projects. These situations require a PO to flex their coordination muscles to ensure that ownership is clear and that they are aligned and working well with these related teams.
  • Stakeholder relations – To be effective, a team needs to understand who they are trying to impact, why, and how. They need to understand the business problem and what stakeholders goals are. In an idea world, the team and stakeholders need to work together as one. There needs to be a short feedback loop so the team knows when they are on the right track and when they aren’t. The stakeholders need clear expectations and regular updates on progress and problems. The Product Owners skills at communication and facilitation are key to being successful in these areas.

Working with the Squad

  • Leadership – This dimension covers your ability to manage yourself and grow others. It’s about leading by example, offering and soliciting feedback, challenging unhealthy behaviors, and holding yourself and others responsible. It’s also about understanding group dynamics and how teams evolve. You’re assessing your ability to develop individuals and teams.
  • Autonomy – This dimension is about creating an environment where the team is empowered and motivated. Product Owners can support this by providing focus for the team while giving them the information they need to make decisions autonomously. A PO must also ensure that the team is aligned, not only amongst themselves, but also with the vision of the product/project and the company as a whole.

Working with the Product

  • Visioning the product – This dimension covers your ability to define and communicate your product in a way that inspires others. You first need to understand the domain and the needs of your stakeholders. If you’re breaking new territory you might need to adopt product discovery tools e.g. user story maps or use cases. Once you’ve defined the vision, there are many different tools that you can use to communicate it e.g. A3, product boxes, future press releases, etc. You’re assessing your ability to lead a team to make business impact.
  • Measuring success – This dimension covers measuring your progress towards goals and milestones e.g. burn down and burn up charts. It also covers the skills needed to measure whether you’re achieving the intended impact of the product/project e.g. impact maps. You are assessing your ability to work with data to validate hypothesis and to pivot if needed.

Working with the Process

  • Agile and Lean methods – This dimension covers the methodologies and processes that you and your team adopt including Kanban, Scrum, XP, and Lean. You are also evaluating your understanding of and adoption of tools that support and enable you to follow agile methods e.g. Jira, Rally, LeanKitKanban, and Trello. You are assessing your understanding of and application of methodology, process, and tools.
  • Incremental development – This dimension covers everything related to breaking down work and delivering value incrementally. To do so you’ll use different techniques such as defining “done”, grooming your backlog, setting milestones, creating road maps, and using prioritisation models etc. You are assessing your understanding and application of these and other techniques.
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5 thoughts on “What is the Product Owner Framework?

    1. Great question and there’s no one answer. You could either let product owners self assess themselves on a theoretical level but as they get to levels 3 and onwards they need to display/show that they’re using different techniques and tools. Knowledge is a great first step and adoption and actually changing behavior/using tools is a natural second step. So you could ask for concrete examples of when they’ve applied a certain technique.

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    1. Hi!

      When it was created, we didn’t intend for teams to evaluate their product owners. While it can be used for that, what’s most important is that product owners understand how wide and deep the role is and where they should focus on developing themselves.

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