The world of agile product management has never been more challenging. We’re at a juncture, facing a disruptive change in the perception of products and how they are made. Some companies will cling to traditional methods, while others will fundamentally embrace a new agile philosophy. There will be winners and losers.
Looking at what agile has changed in the past two decades, we see that product development has particularly benefited. Agile has proven it can help you develop high-quality products quickly and efficiently.
The role of the product owner described in Scrum has been crucial. Yet many businesses find that despite this efficient “engine” they’ve developed and building high-quality products based on a high-level of collaboration, market success is not being realized.
Market success is rooted in the enablement of the product owner role. In businesses that successfully take the next step, product owners are active at the level of product management and marketing. Rather than focus on technology alone, product owners try to work out what problems they are addressing:
Who are our customers? What are their beliefs? How are they using our products?
Product owners no longer focus only on what they are making and how to put it on the market, but also observe how their product is received and the value that it offers in terms of money and impact on customers.
Ultimately, the next level, the level at which the winners will operate, is one where the product owners make strategic decisions and act as if they own a startup embedded within a large organisation, with all the associated behaviour, risk levels and profiles.
We’ll see a development of product owners in three evolutionary steps. This will redefine what agile product management is about.
What will agile product management mean for the future? It’s just like the internet, which was developed in a constraint context to exchange messages and information between universities, but turned into something much more socially relevant. The internet has become a platform that enables us to provide services like, «Will the ambulance for grandma arrive in time? Is my little daughter still asleep? When will my taxi arrive?» Services that add much more value than the underlying technology. In the same way, Scrum and agile are evolving into something that has huge social relevance.
Are we building the right products? Are we going too fast? Is the quality right? Could it be that there is no longer a demand by the time we put it on the market? Why are we doing things? That’s what this is all about.
What is the «why» behind your product?