How to become a Product Owner?

  1. How to become a Product Owner?
  2. Advice for those who want to start this role
  3. The key success factor of the Product Owner
  4. Product Manager vs Product Owner
  5. What is an employer looking for?
  6. Q&A Session part 1
  7. Being book smart vs people smart
  8. What is the most important for the employer?
  9. How does value look in practice?

Webinar transcription

How to Become a Product Owner

[00:00:00.410] - Pawel Felinski

Welcome to Agile Encounters. The topic today is how to become a product owner.

We prepared few interesting topics that we want to cover because we believe this topic might be as hot as the topic we discussed few months ago, how to become an Agile coach. So today we will cover the following three areas, perhaps more based on questions from you. First of all. Well, I believe everybody wonders here, how do I become a product owner? Especially if I have never, ever had. Anything with product management in general. Then we're going to look at it from a little bit different perspective. If I am an employer, what is that I'm looking for when I want to hire a product owner or an Agile product manager? And finally, the topic that might be really important, we teach a lot during our classes that product ownership is all about value driven development. I guess you wonder, how does value look in practise? Together with me today, a special guest, Lauren Latham, head of product in NHS Digital in the UK. So, a person who knows a lot about product management, product ownership from both perspectives, I believe, as an employee and employer as well. So I think we go directly to the topic, how they become a product owner. But before that, Lauren, I have a question to you. What is your journey? What was your journey in site product ownership, product management? What were your product roles? How did it start?

[00:01:52.930] - Lauren Latham

Well, firstly, thanks for having me. So my journey was, I'm going to say, particularly unusual, but I don't think there's a usual journey to becoming a product manager or a product owner. I work in health tech, which is sort of descriptive of my role at NHS Digital. I actually started my career on the ground in hospitals, providing pharmacy services to NHS Trust. I then went on to support those hospitals in implementing their digital technology to help transform the services that they provide. I then worked for a number of companies in the digital health tech sector, supporting them with implementation of the technology at more of a national scale or regional scale. And I think at that point I had a natural curiosity for product management because I was always asking, why aren't you speaking to your customers more? Why aren't you spending so much time exploring what their needs are and why? That was a natural curiosity to me, to how a product manager could do that and should do that. And also, I suppose I have a natural tendency to not just think about one specialism, I think product management, you have a bit of knowledge about a lot of topics, whether that be sort of architecture, coding, user needs, user research, et cetera. So I have a natural tendency to think about all of those things anyway and all of the questions to do with the product. And I was doing that. So found myself in a product management role as someone or multiple products throughout my career and then moved into building teams and managing portfolios of products at a more national scale, which is where I am now.

[00:04:06.830] - Pawel Felinski

You say this path was unusual or not so typical. I think it might be typical to at least a group of product owners who I know, either ex users of a product or people who used to be customers, maybe stakeholders, then they wanted to develop their own product that we want that. Do you think it's possible to graduate? You leave your university and you become the product owner or product manager? Is that something usual that you observe?

[00:04:39.050] - Lauren Latham

Yeah, not so typically, no. So I said at the beginning, I don't find that there's any real usual path to getting into product. It tends to be quite organic. You demonstrate that you've got some skills and behaviours that are required within those roles and therefore you naturally either gravitate yourselves towards those roles and can see yourself adding a lot of value as a product manager or owner, or people recognise those skills within you and you therefore gravitate into those roles organically. I haven't known of many people that have grown up wanting to be a product manager or owner. I don't think that that's something that it's not a profession that's known about in that much detail when you're sort of growing up like a fireman or a police officer, but going into digital and having a natural curiosity for digital and technology, it doesn't really matter, I think, what role you start off as. I've known project managers, cyber graduates, lots of different people, implementation specialists that just demonstrate that natural tendency to want to solve problems, to have a good level of emotional intelligence, that they can influence people and gauge situations and help make the right decisions about solutions and bring people together. So I think it's more about your values and behaviours than it is around your sort of ambition to be in product, but also about the skills that you have or the experience you have.

[00:06:33.230] - Pawel Felinski

So I do agree with you. There's no one perhaps path, one typical way to become the product owner. I wonder, in your professional career, have you observed any patterns here? You said a lot about values and behaviours. That sounds interesting because typically I think about how to become a product owner as a and here you put the name of a position as an engineer. How can I become a product manager, as a business person, as a stakeholder, but values, behaviours. That's interesting thread I'd like to follow.

[00:07:08.650] - Lauren Latham

Yeah. So I think it's all around. So if you are an engineer or if you are close to product delivery, I think demonstrating that you don't just think about your particular role, that it's not just about the code quality, but you think about, what am I doing? Is what am I doing adding value? Is it meeting the user needs? And you think sort of that bigger picture. And you demonstrate those sort of values and behaviours that are not just your particular experience and specialism, but that you think about that bigger picture. And you are really passionate about solving problems for users, working with teams and bringing teams together to align on a vision or I think those are sort of soft skills that aren't necessarily you can gain those through experience, but they start off within your natural tendencies, within your personality, and then you build on them. So I think if you're in a role that is directly sort of in product delivery, then demonstrating that you think like that and you are happy to challenge and that's what's going to make you recognised and you can therefore have some experience that looks very appealing to people hiring for product roles.

[00:08:38.310] - Pawel Felinski

Let's imagine I see in myself that I have relevant stance, relevant set of behaviours. How should I make the first step?

[00:08:50.890] - Lauren Latham

I think there's different paths, right? So I would also say that it is a positive to find the people that can help you with your career. So the people like me that would be hiring, making yourself notice to them, speaking up within the product team, putting forward ideas just within your sort of day to day, also just demonstrating those behaviours. And I think the right people that are hiring, product owners and managers will recognise that naturally, like I had a lot of people that I can see that they would be great in product roles before they even can see that. I think there's an element of that and if you just be and you do, and you demonstrate that, then hopefully people will recognise it. But if not, the other route is to reach out and influence the people that are hiring into these roles. Work closely with your product owners, with product managers within the organisation, learn from them, see if you can get some coaching from them and therefore they'll know that you're interested and can support you in that path to product ownership as well.

[00:10:11.090] - Pawel Felinski

Would you have any particular piece of advice for those who say I want to be a product owner but have no experience, so nobody wants to hire me. Now I can't get any experience because I'm not hired as a product owner. Very often we think product owner is pretty senior person in the organisation typically will not allow a junior person starting their career to be owner of the interproduct. Is there any specific advice to those young people?

[00:10:43.390] - Lauren Latham

Yes, I do understand that and I do understand that going straight from university or from studying and going into a product ownership role is quite difficult. I think going into a role that works with product ownership or might be project support within a digital organisation. If you take that step and you demonstrate the right behaviours and the right values and influence the right people and network with the right people, I would be pretty confident that you would get recognised and therefore then have the opportunity to move into those roles. So where I said I didn't know that I wanted to be a product manager when I was working in hospitals, but I naturally gravitated towards that. And I think taking the sort of the route into digital tech in a role that is close to product delivery and close to product management and product ownership, and then demonstrating those values and behaviours, and you can get some experience of influencing stakeholders regardless of what role you're in. You can get experience of managing difficult situations and conversations and they're the types of more soft experience that will appeal to people hiring into product roles for.

[00:12:16.780] - Pawel Felinski

Those who are watching us live. If you have any questions either to learn or to me, please don't hesitate to type it in the chat window. We'll have time for Q and A at the end of our session but we'll be looking at your questions already while you are writing them. I have a question that typically I receive during training for product owners. The question is Pavel and I'm now sending it back to you. What is the one key success factors of people who want to become product owners? Not in terms of their skills, but traits. One top thing? Yeah, exactly.

[00:12:58.480] - Lauren Latham

Good question and I think everybody would answer this slightly differently. I'm going to say a passion for problem solving. So finding problems and seeking out the right solutions to those problems by engaging with users and doing all of the right sort of practises, you would do within Agile ways of working in an Agile mindset. In order to do that, you have to be inquisitive about that. Where you would not be great in a product role is if you think you've got the solution to a problem or you think you know what that problem is and you make assumptions and you move to deliver something and you rally a team around either the wrong problem or the wrong solution. You have to keep challenging and be inquisitive about that.

[00:13:52.190] - Pawel Felinski

It's very interesting point of view. I can't say that I never thought about it from that perspective. My answer is slightly different but perhaps my background also in product ownership is different. I say about many skills, many traits, but the one I am really happy about when I see a person becoming a product owner is ability to make decisions. And I'm not saying just being empowered by organisation, that's obvious, but this internal motivation to make decisions. I know a lot of product managers or product owners paralysed when they have to make a decision or not making any decision until they must make the decision because the situation forces them. I think there's a lot of lost opportunity over here. There's a different perspective. I would say business one, not a product one, actually. Right?

[00:14:44.780] - Lauren Latham

Yeah. And I would also challenge that a little bit as well because I think, yes, critical thinking and decision making is absolutely one of the skills that you need as a product manager or owner, but also having the emotional intelligence and understanding your team and what skills and expertise you need to feed into that. And also when you need to refer to your technical people, they have the knowledge and expertise and you can be inquisitive and drill into that, but also sort of being able to balance that and know when to bring in that expertise and have the right discussions with the right people in order to make the right decisions.

[00:15:34.010] - Pawel Felinski

Lauren, I have a final question because so far we're talking about product managers, azure product managers, product owners altogether. From the perspective of Scrum Trainer and the Scrum framework, this is pretty obvious. We have a role of the product owner, but at some point of time I found out this kind of thinking is limiting. What if you don't have Scrum method? What if you want to use Agile work that are independent from any method? I believe there is a difference between a product manager and the product owner. How do you see this difference? Not by the book, but in Practise, because I believe you work with both product owners and Agile or not Agile product managers.

[00:16:15.680] - Lauren Latham

Yeah. So I think each organisation that I've worked with, I think every organisation is different. Sometimes the product owner role is the product manager role and that is one role and that person looks at strategy, gathers user needs, also then rallies the product team and works with the product team in order to deliver. But then in other organisations they're separate roles and you have a product manager that is more looking at the strategy, gathering those user needs and doing the road mapping and prioritisation. And the product owner is working with the team in order to come up with solutions, experiment, make decisions with the team. And I think that depends on the needs of the organisation, whether you need both of two separate roles and they're two separate people, or whether they're one role and one person that manages that. And I think there's challenges with both. I think I don't know any product owners that aren't very busy, have to do a lot of things and juggle a lot of things. But if you do have separate roles, you then have to make sure that you really work really closely together, that you align on the vision, that you align on the roadmap.

[00:17:40.130] - Lauren Latham

So it can bring different challenges within different organisations.

[00:17:46.070] - Pawel Felinski

What is easier, how do you say it, to be a product owner in a Scrum team and then later, as the next step in the career, to become the product manager, or first to be a product manager and then at some point of time learn scrum and take the product owners accountability.

[00:18:07.790] - Lauren Latham

I don't think one is easier than the other, if I'm honest. I think they're both focused on delivering value to users and maximising the value that can be delivered right. That's both of their roles. One is more focused on working with the product team and that comes with its own challenges, right? You've got to make sure you've got the right skills, you create the right environment, you have the right mindsets and the right tools, et cetera. And the other is more focused on gathering user needs, aligning to outlining the strategy, understanding business needs and prioritisation. I can't say that one is harder than the other. I think where you've got and I think product managers or owners that do that one role, I think they obviously have to do a lot and they're spread quite thin and they have to manage a lot and consider a lot. And if they're broken up and they're two separate roles, the organisation is likely larger, has more challenges, more needs, and so it's less about one is more difficult than the other. I think they're both pretty challenging roles. I don't think anybody would say that they're easy, but dependent on the size and the shape of the organisation, whether you need one or both.

[00:19:38.550] - Pawel Felinski

Got it. All right, thank you very much. And I think that's the moment where we jump into the next topic because we have a unique opportunity over here. Lauren is not only product manager, product owner, but actually head of products. So a person who is working with multiple product roles as well as hiring hires, product roles, if I want to be hired as a product owner, what is that an employer is looking for?

[00:20:11.010] - Lauren Latham

So I'll refer back to the sort of the demonstrating those values and behaviours and I think it depends whether you are newly going into a product role or you are sort of taking the leap and the step up into a more senior role. I suppose, regardless of that, I'm still looking for those values and behaviours and want to see real solid examples of where you have influenced some difficult stakeholders and can demonstrate how you influenced the steps you thought through in order to do that and what you considered, how you went about it, what the outcome was and sort of how you would analyse that situation and explain it. And really as well, not in an ideal way, because I think sometimes we can have the tendency to say everything's been ideal and has always had a successful outcome. In Practise, that is not always the case. If you can give an example that says you did X, Y and Z and this was the outcome, but you would have done this instead, looking back like that type of sort of honesty and insight and awareness of how you behave and what you consider. I think I would be looking for that within aspiring product managers and owners also.

[00:21:39.900] - Lauren Latham

Then around making decisions, that strategic thinking. Just examples around that to ensure that you aren't just sort of siloed thinking around a solution to a problem that you consider that bigger picture. Whether that be I don't know, how something's going to be released, how it would be deployed, not just that we're going to design, we're going to build and then we're going to deliver a bigger picture thinking, and also how you've worked as a team player. You don't necessarily have to have product experience to demonstrate how you work in a team. It can be something that you've done within your home life. But demonstrating how you work with a team, how you rally a team, how you sort of influence those types of real world examples really demonstrate the right behaviours and values. And then I think it's also if you're moving up in a role and you want sort of a senior product manager role, it's about still demonstrating those values and behaviours, but also with some of the experience to back. That up so that you've worked on prioritisation and you've managed some difficult situations where it's not been ideal, and you've had to make a decision on priorities, where you use some data, but you didn't have all of the facts, for example.

[00:23:08.760] - Lauren Latham

And you had to make that decision. And what was the outcome? Was it right? Was it wrong? And what did you learn? But so turning those into sort of more real world examples, but also with that element of insight and honesty that things are difficult. The product role is a difficult role. There isn't really an ideal situation. I think I refer to it like is there really a happy path? I would say I've never found a happy path where all of the stars align and you can make everybody happy. There's always some trade-offs and some decision or somebody you're going to upset along the way because you can't make everybody happy. So I think that sort of real honesty and insight into the real world of being in product and some of the challenges that that present. I look for that with some real examples of how you've managed that when I'm hiring.

[00:24:16.690] - Pawel Felinski

It's very interesting. You mentioned the happy birth over here years ago when I was a trainer. I still am a trainer, I was a very junior trainer delivering basic classes for product owners. It was in pre pandemic time, so more in the classroom experience than on mural. I was drawing avatars of scrum rolls, including my avatar of a product door. And my avatar of the product door had always sad face. People ask me why it's sad and I said, Well, I've never met a happy one. That was the thing. And at the end of the train, typically they got deployed so much in terms of accountability. I had to change my avatar while moving with my classes to the USA because they said it's demotivating and there was something about it. About it, indeed. I'm not sure if you can reveal it, but do you have any favourite key, very important question during recruitment interview that you like to ask your candidate?

[00:25:19.510] - Lauren Latham

That is a good question. If it's not a secret, I would. Never be able to use them again, would I? Honestly, I'm going to give you one and I'm never going to be able to use it. But one of them is what would somebody that doesn't like you say about you? And I'm never going to be able to use that now. But I suppose what I'm looking for is how you react to that question. And also there's some insight into as a product person, you're not going to make everybody happy. So if you say everybody likes me, I want to be liked as a product person, I'm probably going to challenge that and question that a little bit further. But just wanting some honesty and some insight into you can't make people happy all of the time and that just in general life, not everybody's going to like you. And some rawness about that. That's what I'm looking for with that question. But thanks. I'll never be able to use it again now.

[00:26:23.290] - Pawel Felinski

All right, no more questions about questions. I noticed we have a question from one of participants of our session. Let me show the question on the screen. It should be visible right now. Not yet. Right now. Exactly what advice could you give to junior product owners? What mistakes should they avoid?

[00:26:53.030] - Lauren Latham

Good question. I'm going to say two things actually. First one is thinking that people know all of the answers. I think when you're a junior enrol and some people can talk with quite a lot of confidence, especially about if it's really technical people that have a lot of knowledge that maybe you don't have. But suppose assuming that people know the answers, know all the answers and therefore maybe not feeling comfortable enough to challenge or ask those really simple questions. I remember really early in my career, I was surrounded in a meeting with a lot of very clever architects and I just asked the question like, how does the data get from here to over here? They all looked at me and one of them went, that's the most architectural question that's been talked about in this meeting. And I think sometimes you can assume everybody knows everything and they have a lot of detailed knowledge, but you might have a question that seems really simple, but just being bold enough and not feeling afraid to ask those questions I think is really important. And then also, especially if you've got product management and product ownership and they're two separate roles.

[00:28:21.160] - Lauren Latham

Being too inwardly facing and feeling more comfortable with your product team. Inwardly facing within your organisation and not looking out enough, not looking at what other companies do, what other businesses do, seeking enough feedback from users. I would say just making sure that you've got that inward view but you've also got that outward view as well is really important.

[00:28:51.130] - Pawel Felinski

Thank you. Thank you very much. We will come back to questions and our answers shortly. Now I have a question and I think that would be the last question of mine in this section. You mentioned that it's very important to be people smart if you're the product owner, to be a team player. I think it's also important to have some hard know how in product management, product management skills, roadmaps visions, all that stuff. So that kind of knowledge and skills. If you were to judge what is more important, being a book smart or people smart, what are you seeking for Agile recruiting junior and senior product owners?

[00:29:41.870] - Lauren Latham

Yeah, I love that analogy. Book smart and people smart and I think it's not really about is one more important. I think it's about recognising where you sit. I will say that I naturally sit within the people smart area and I think because of that it's really important that I make sure that I've got sort of a key set of tools and tools and methodology that I can use and I can pull out that I've sort of got experience with. And so I think it's about recognising where you are and also then balancing that and making a conscious effort to work on those skills. So if you are book smart and very academic and love to sort of find the best tools and make sure you understand everything about all of the different Agile, practises and methodologies and things like that, that you work on, your communication skills, how you communicate, how you influence and so you can balance those out. And I think it's just about recognising where you are and then having a level that's acceptable for either the book smart or the people smart.

[00:30:59.370] - Pawel Felinski

I think it comes back a little bit to the path that we discussed at the beginning of our meeting. Depending on where you start, are you an ex user of this kind of product or X engineer? Your path might be different if you were to compare having a product management knowledge and skills versus being a team player, which skills are more difficult to learn?

[00:31:33.070] - Lauren Latham

I also think this comes down to your natural tendencies as well. So if you are a book smart person and you're very academic and you really enjoy that, then it can be quite difficult to build on your people skills, build on that emotional intelligence and utilise that in order to influence the right stakeholders and communicate in the right way. But you can also use some of that book smart skills in order to do that. So researching how best should I communicate my product strategy and my product's vision and make sure that you practise that and you've got your elevator pitches nails. I think that you can lean on some of those more natural skills in order to then build on the areas that you think you can improve.

[00:32:28.910] - Pawel Felinski

It's absolutely aligned with my experience. I always tell the young product owners, no matter if they're young or not in terms of their age, obviously, that they shouldn't look at their past job as something that limits them, but actually something that is a very good starting point. I worked once with an engineer, senior engineer, years in coding and testing software, who wanted to become a product manager and struggle with business strategy values and so on. Although he was what you would call a problem solver, literally. And I told him, well, use your skills, use your knowledge in engineering, it will only help you if I imagine a product owner or a product manager who has absolutely no technical knowledge. That's also somehow limiting because you are the owner of the interproduct, including the technological stack. There's one more question, let me show it to all of you over here. Igor is asking what do you think is more valuable for an employer, a technical knowledge or soft skill? Similar to my question actually of roskai, meaning when candidate for a job is a newbie in the world of It for that industry, do you have any special answer to the question, Lauren?

[00:34:00.030] - Lauren Latham

So I'm going to answer it in reference to the product owner role. I think if you're brand new into the world of it would be difficult to sort of move directly into a product ownership role. And I think looking at other roles that you can move into and demonstrate the skills and the behaviours that you've got and some of how some of that experience can help you in product ownership, that is going to be a much easier path and therefore you don't necessarily need to build those skills. I think there are things about doing sort of learning about Agile, going on a Scrum product ownership course or doing some of that learning will always help you with getting those roles a because it will demonstrate that you've got an interest and B that you are willing and driven off your own back to go and do that and get into to support you getting the role that you want. So some drive and ambition there and some determination to get there and sort of evidencing what you've done to date in order to learn and demonstrate your dedication to get into that role. I think it's very hard to demonstrate your technical knowledge if you're really brand new into a role.

[00:35:42.340] - Lauren Latham

You could have done some courses, but actually until you've got a bit of that experience or understanding about the environment and some of the challenges that it presents, it can be quite theoretical. So I think obviously having an understanding and doing some of those courses will help. But also I keep going back to it, but demonstrating those values and behaviours that you can take some. Of your experience from any of the roles that you've got to demonstrate how you would apply that and how you would apply what you learned through doing that into a product role will help you move into product ownership.

[00:36:26.170] - Pawel Felinski

Thank you very much and I think we are ready to move to the next topic. Very practical. I believe the product owner as defining Scrum is accountable for maximising value of a product and it's like a mantra of product owners value. How does value look in Practise? So not by the book, but in the real Practise of product owners. How often you look at value, how do you do that? Do you do that or you maybe have some people or vendors actually collecting information for you and make some decisions? What's the state of the art if we look at it not from the perspective of training or a book, but real life.

[00:37:13.200] - Lauren Latham

Lauren okay, so I think this is a really interesting one because there's lots of talk around. We have to sort of understand our outcomes and always be ensuring what we're doing is meeting those outcomes. I think value is really just about the benefit that your product or your service provides. And I think there are practical things that you can embed within your team or your teams that ensure that that's considered at numerous points within a development process or within a lifecycle of a product. But also there's things around the operating environment and the environment that you create that also then help you make sure that you are aligning and ensuring that you're going to meet value or the value that you want. So one of the things that I think is really important, whether it's you're embedding a new feature or you're creating a new team or it's a new product, but that you understand the problems that you are trying to solve and you can articulate the outcomes that you want those to achieve and you might talk about those in different things. So that might be objectives and key results. OKRs, it might be what we call I call outcome measurement frameworks.

[00:38:45.050] - Lauren Latham

But if you can work with the right stakeholders, whether that be your business team, customers, et cetera, to write down and be really clear on what those outcomes are and what those objectives are and embed that into what you do at each stage, you can make sure that the teams are aligning around them. So when there's a new product feature or when a question comes up, you can refer back to is this going to help meet the outcomes that we need? And therefore it meets the needs of the users and the business. And also quite crucially, ensure that once you've delivered them that you measure that as well so you can learn from it. So having some key performance indicators and some measurements that are going to demonstrate how you are going to meet the outcomes or add value can then help you learn from it. You might think that by adding this feature it's going to help deliver value. You do it and then you learn quite quickly using some data that it doesn't. And I think the important thing is that you've got the framework in place to help you go actually no, this isn't going to meet the value.

[00:40:09.460] - Lauren Latham

What can we do about it? How can we change this in order for it to help meet the outcome? So I think that being embedded within the process is really important to help everybody align and at different points as well. So in terms of the teams, in terms of you within a team, ensure that you keep asking that is this aligning to that outcome? Is this helping demonstrate the value that we need it to? And therefore if it's not, you can do something about it early.

[00:40:47.630] - Pawel Felinski

So again, if I hear you correctly, it's all about working with people, stakeholders, management, finding out what they need. This is very interesting point of view because again, when I look back at classes that I deliver, question number one or two in terms of frequency during my classes is PAVA, what is the metric that you would propose us to measure value? Give me the metric as if there was one metric. So it's less about metrics in here, more about collaboration with people. Very interesting point of view indeed.

[00:41:22.890] - Lauren Latham

I don't think there's one metric. I think it depends on your product, it depends on your service. If you have a product that you're selling and it's a commercial product, then you might look at customer acquisition costs or lifetime value of the customers. I work within health cheque at the moment and therefore it's less on sort of return, on investment, around the particular profitability of the product and it's more around the societal benefits. So trying to align on what the outcomes you are trying to achieve, whether that be reducing cancer rates or detecting cancer early or getting people to attend their appointments, the outcomes that you're trying to achieve dependent on your product, your service, the market that you work in is going to be different. So you making sure that you understand what your business needs are, that what your user’s needs are. And therefore defining what the outcomes you need to achieve are is the key thing to therefore then looking at, okay, well how do we measure this, what measurements can we do in order to meet this? And I think that will iterate over time, but if you don't have that framework in place, then it's very subjective.

[00:42:48.230] - Pawel Felinski

I'd like to dig a little bit deeper over here. Quite often I see product owners separating what fair measure from what business should measure. And in your context is a very nice kind of value because it's not directly monetary. The rate of cancer that we review. I would say as an owner of a product somewhere there. That's what Ministry of Health should measure, not me. Why should I? Do you see that disconnection in Practise or is it that actually there's no big difference between measurements of performance of my product and my business or my organisation? Your case?

[00:43:31.890] - Lauren Latham

Yeah. So I think when you're delivering a product, it's not just that product, right? It's also the service that it provides. In my industry, that service is serving citizens of the United Kingdom in order to provide them with better health care. So being able to measure the impact of my product and the service on some of those really important outcomes is quite crucial to know whether the product and the service is performing or not. And that breaks down. Right. So we might introduce a feature that might improve the user experience and that user experience will impact whether citizens book their appointments or not. If they book their appointments or not will impact whether we detect potential cancers or not. So there's a direct correlation between the technology and the features that we introduce and those overall outcomes that we're trying to achieve. And I think that's obviously specific to healthcare and to health tech. But I also think if you've got and I've worked in the private sector as well, if you've got products that also are meeting the business need and having the outcomes and the objectives known at a senior level within the organisation and demonstrating as you iterate and enhance your product, how your product is and what the return on investment is, what the customer acquisition costs are.

[00:45:11.810] - Lauren Latham

And having those metrics visible and talked about at a senior level is going to help your overall product success and help meet the outcomes you're trying to achieve. I suppose it's regardless of what those outcomes are.

[00:45:27.290] - Pawel Felinski

Thank you. Thank you very much. Lauren, we've just discussed topical metrics. There's no one that we can recommend, not even five or ten. It's product specific, industry specific. But do you have any favourite techniques or tools related to value driven development, value management? I have one, maybe two that I like because they typically work when I work with stakeholders or teams. What do you have in your toolkit?

[00:45:58.930] - Lauren Latham

I suppose lots of standard ones around prioritisation. So I actually love design sprints. I love getting clever people together to solve a problem really quickly that I truly love. So I love a Design Sprint and I really like a really simple way of adding ideas and then doing a prioritisation around that based on how much value is it going to deliver towards your outcomes, how much time it's going to take. So sort of a two by two matrix is perfect if I think my simple brain, but also then even with the less quantitative sort of value tool. So writing down and getting a team to align on a vision for a product and then using that vision frequently and referencing it, I think is really powerful to help alignment and alignment on an overall strategy or on the value you're trying to achieve. I was at quite a senior meeting very recently where a very senior person was sort of articulating the product strategy. And I posted in the chat the vision statement that we'd agreed and instantly everybody aligned around it and sort of lots of likes and I think even something as simple as that, that might not take you very long to write and sort of work with a team on.

[00:47:31.840] - Lauren Latham

But using that to help people align and work towards an overall vision is less of a quantitative and metric, but something that's really powerful.

[00:47:44.210] - Pawel Felinski

You have to believe us. But Laura and I, we didn't meet earlier and talk about it and still two out of three her favourite techniques are also on my list. I would definitely have Design Sprints in my top three, any kind of two times two matrix helping us prioritise. For my Practise, I would add impact mapping as well as a tool providing alignment between business and business stakeholders and my team. But that's the practise. We talk a little bit about metrics. I have a final question before we move to the Q and A with the participants of our webinar, I have a final question. Value driven development is about evidence based decisions and the evidence might be a metric indeed, or something more qualitative. There are two big schools, startup people will go into measuring because the answer is, well, people lie if you ask them a question. Better perform some experiments with people. A design thinking school, UX school, would say, no, we have to interview our users, we have to observe them, we have to do this kind of research. Again, in Practise, how often is qualitative? How often do you see quantitative kind of collecting gathering evidence?

[00:49:12.230] - Pawel Felinski

Do you prefer any or it only makes sense if you use both in parallel?

[00:49:17.350] - Lauren Latham

Yeah, I think the situation, every situation is going to be different. So having the ability to identify whether there's any quantitative data that can support you or whether there's more qualitative, whether you should go out and do some additional research and I think being able to navigate that and use that critical thinking to identify it is probably the crux of where sort of the sweet spot is. I don't think that one or the other is right. I think it's about the situation and applying them at the right times. And I also have one, I suppose, controversial thought that you don't always have all of that information, so sometimes you don't have the data and you might not have all of the user research. You might have every single answer to your question. But if you take all of that information also create the environment where you can fail fast and therefore you can make those decisions with your team. And if that's not right, you can learn from that quickly. And I think that's the I think you referred to it right at the beginning. The ability to make those decisions and not sit on it is really important.

[00:50:47.310] - Lauren Latham

Because if you go out and you do the Nth degree of research or you set up lots of ways to gather the data, that is delaying value to your users and delaying you learning from that. And that is worse than not doing that in the first place. So I think your point at the beginning was really poignant in that. Final question.

[00:51:09.670] - Pawel Felinski

All right, this is time for Q and A session, so if you're here with us, please type for question the chat window. In the meantime, I have a final question while you are typing. A final question to you, Lauren, if you were to summarise what we discussed about today in a couple of sentences, how to become a product owner, but with the question, what would be your brief answer?

[00:51:40.690] - Lauren Latham

My short answer, rather than the bond cancer, would be demonstrate your values and behaviours, make sure you have an Agile mindset, because that's going to answer and help you with your values and behaviours and the team that you work with. And then be determined and find a path to getting into that role. Because if you do, then you will find a role, you will demonstrate that you can do that and you can do a great job, but be determined to get into that role and then do a great job at it.

[00:52:24.990] - Pawel Felinski

All right, thank you. Thank you very much. I can't see any more questions in the chat window. Maybe a few people are still thinking about them. If not, that's fine. So I'd like to reveal what's next. Here we go. September the 7th. Next Agile encounter. This time we'll be talking or we'll be exploring another site of product ownership. And over here, and we would like to focus on the role of the product owner. Accountabilities of the product owner. The question, the topic of the webinar is should the product owner delegate? Attention, please. As a spoiler alert. Now the answer is yes. Now the question and discussion will be around what to delegate or when or to whom, for how long. Is it context specific or not? Product owner is one per product in scrum, at least in this framework. But it's not alone. It's not alone. People working with the product owner and don't mean on the developers. We're going to explore this topic in details. September the 7th. If you want to register to it already, you can use the QR code visible on screen or tap the register button in the top of the screen.

[00:53:53.530] - Pawel Felinski

I can't see any more questions. That means there's one more question over here. Not a question, actually, that's an information from Natalia. Thank you for that, indeed about adopting Agile mindset. We focus on the topics during one of our first Agile encounters. You can see the link in the chat window. Tony and I were exchanging our thoughts. We had a lot of Warfield stories over that. In that case, thank you very much for watching us today. I hope to see you see you next time during Agile Counter Seven. Lauren, thank you very much for accepting our invitation, sharing your experience with us. I think it was very valuable. I wish everybody good evening. Good day. Depending on where you are. See you next time. Thank you.

Meet the speakers

Pawel Felinski

Pawel Felinski

Paweł is a management consultant working in the fields of strategy execution and new product development. Recently, he has been involved in business transformations with Agile in the energy industry. Paweł brings a pragmatic and method-agnostic approach to problem-solving.
Lauren Latham

Lauren Latham

Lauren is Head of Product and Practice Lead for Product Management at NHS Digital. She is passionate about designing and delivering digital products and services into Healthcare settings and building high-performing teams. Throughout her 20 years of experience, she has successfully built and launched various healthcare products across Primary, Community and Secondary Care. She likes to use this experience to coach and mentor aspiring product managers and owners.

Past webinars

How to Start with Design Sprint
December 20, 2023

How to Start with Design Sprint

Nearly a decade ago, Design Sprint came to the rescue. It's a framework built on top of Design Thinking, which prescribes clear roles, requirements, and tasks that help bring Design Thinking to life.
What's Possible with Kanban
October 25, 2023

What's Possible with Kanban

Discover the power of the Kanban method, including enhanced workflow visibility, faster delivery and customer satisfaction it can bring to your team and organisation.
How to Become an Enterprise Agile Coach
September 20, 2023

How to Become an Enterprise Agile Coach

Join Paweł Feliński and Pete Schibli, seasoned Agile experts, as they demystify the role of Enterprise Agile Coaches, drawing from their extensive experience in various industries. Gain insider insights from interviews with renowned Agile coaches and learn the unique capabilities required for success at the enterprise level. Whether you're aspiring to become an Enterprise Agile Coach or seeking to advance your career in this field, Paweł and Pete will provide you with a roadmap to success.
How to use the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel
August 23, 2023

How to use the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel

Discover and leverage the power of the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel
How to Reinvent your Career - The Transformative Journey to Become Project Manager
June 28, 2023

How to Reinvent your Career - The Transformative Journey to Become Project Manager

Delve the captivating story of Dmitrii, who charted a unique path from Lean Startup to Agile project management. We promise this webinar to be an enlightening exploration of personal growth and professional evolution.
Small steps management
April 19, 2023

Small steps management

Demystify systems thinking and draw useful conclusions from the peculiar domain of knowledge. Learn how to combine the popular OKR goal-setting system with a simple yet powerful visualisation technique to help achieve commitments step-by-step.
What to do to manage multiple stakeholders
March 15, 2023

What to do to manage multiple stakeholders

Get to know techniques for discovering and prioritising the expectations of all your stakeholders together.
Stakeholder management in practice
February 15, 2023

Stakeholder management in practice

Stakeholders management in practice
A better way to transform your business
January 18, 2023

A better way to transform your business

Have you noticed that digital transformations, agile transformations, or any other business transformation often fail, despite initial successes? Why is it so? Is there any better way to manage organisational changes? During the webinar, we will share our answers to these questions and an approach that gives transformations a better success ratio.
Dealing with dependencies
November 2, 2022

Dealing with dependencies

Dependencies are one of the main causes of organisational overload. How can we deal with them? What practices can we use to manage and minimise dependencies effectively? We answer these questions in this Agile Encounter Webinar. Watch and find solutions for your organisation, team or yourself.

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