In 2016 the Scrum Guide was updated with Scrum Values: Courage, Focus, Commitment, Respect, and Openness.
Let’s have a look on how you can use courage to do the right thing and solve tough problems.
Depending on the company structure, you might face the situation that the final call on decisions is done traditionally by positions higher in the organization structure. It is very challenging because as a Product Owner you should have the final word. The company needs to trust you to make good decisions.
On the other side, especially in companies in the early stage of the agile transformation, it is quite common that passing ‘decision making’ to someone else takes time.
That is when you can show courage.
The courage to stand up and prove that you take the role of a Product Owner seriously.That you want to drive the product further by actively discussing and cooperating with business and senior stakeholders.
You can organize sessions involving senior stakeholders, to discuss the vision and mission of your product so that as the result, you all reach the mutual understanding of what is important and can build on it to use proper metrics to measure its success.
You can offer the senior person the opportunity to inspect the valuable outcome every other week. During those reviews, he/she can give feedback and influence.
It will be noticed that you can take the lead and drive the product towards the mission of the company. Trust in the Product Owners role will naturally grow and decision making will follow.
In the end a good Product Owner acts like the owner of the company and he/she wants the company to succeed.
When your backlog is starting to dangerously grow with defects or you face technical debt in your product, it might put the business in risk of long delivery times, poor quality of delivered features and growing maintenance costs.It also will lead to unsatisfied stakeholders and customers and that is when you need courage.
The courage to not postpone it until it might be too late.
The courage to slow down with features and say “No”.
The courage to identify problems and take actions, so that your product can be performant and valuable.
If the unsatisfied stakeholder persists and wants his story now you can ask the question:Do you want some value now or great value later?
This might be a risky question as that person might go for the short-term but it might allow him/her to look at that from a different perspective and understand if you decide to say “No”.
When the team is young or in the process of forming, it may be challenging to have the freedom to self-manage its work, sprints and avoid micromanagement. It can happen both from the inside and the outside of a Scrum Team e.g. by positions without a role/accountability defined in the Scrum Guide.
Have the courage to bring the product to the team, provide clear vision, support members with anything they might need to self-manage and use the Retrospectives properly to inspect and adapt.
If the team lacks specific skills, there are dependencies or handovers which might prevent the team from delivering increments – have the courage to openly speak about it to find a way to solve it together.
As a Product Owner you can prepare positive, challenging, open questions to inspire the team to think about solutions. Don’t forget that as a part of the team, you can have some solutions in mind yourself.
It is very important that you see yourself as a part of the Scrum Team, so “we” need to find a way, not “you” Developers or Scrum Master.
A good working team is a team which can be honest with each other, and honesty often needs courage.