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10 Essential Skills Every Successful Product Owner Needs

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Being a Product Owner is a lifelong journey of learning. These 10 skills will make that journey easier.

Command authority by mastering these 10 skills!

 


Whether you’re embarking on a newly minted career as a Product Owner or you’re a seasoned veteran who’s been through the trenches, it’s always good to take stock of your skills to perform the job well.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 10 skills every successful Product Owner should have.

1. Delighting your customers

A product owner is like the gatekeeper. Whether a product or service is rolled out for success depends on their ability in maintaining focus on the customer needs and wants. Customer-centric businesses perform well and, in many cases, offer products their customers didn’t know they wanted.

Identifying gaps and delivering market-fit solutions will be how you make your mark as a successful Product Owner. Delight your customers and they’ll reward you with loyalty and business.

2. Stakeholder management

A Product Owner is essentially a manager and sometimes, a mini-CEO. As a result of this, you’re likely to find yourself dealing with and resolving conflicts through negotiation or otherwise.

It’s a thankless, but incredibly important responsibility. Therefore, being skilled in these areas of conflict management and negotiation will go a long way toward cementing you as an effective and formidable Product Owner.

3. Visionary

Some Product Owners might consider themselves entrepreneurs, if not in a literal sense, then in spirit. And they won’t be wrong. Product Owners are called to do a lot but one important skill they must all possess is product vision.

You must be able to articulate and sell your vision to the team and even stakeholders clearly.

4. Prioritising backlog

Product Owners and Agile go hand in hand. Iterating, making incremental updates and pivoting according to data and feedback are all important in ensuring the product shapes up to be the best it can.

Part of the process, however, is prioritising the backlog and identifying tasks that’ll deliver the most business value. This is an important skill as it is the difference between delivering value and wasting valuable time.

5. No ‘I’ in team

You might be the leader of the group but that doesn’t make you an expert in everything. Your job is to maximise value of the product and keep the team on track to deliver each iteration.

Think of yourself more as a team guide than overlord and you’ll do fine. After all, last thing you want to do is be the cause of the conflict.

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6. A good storyteller

Storytelling is something humans have done for generations. Anyone who says storytelling is a useless skill is being disingenuous. It is an extremely useful skill.

A Product Owner who can slice a user story into different categories to add to the Product Backlog while presenting a cohesive tale for their development team to properly visualise and execute on the vision is a good Product Owner. You’ll be making the entire process a relatively painless one if you improve your storytelling skills.

7. Extroverted

It goes without saying that since the bulk of the Product Owner’s responsibilities are to interface with stakeholders, higher management and their own team, that someone who is shy and afraid of conflict won’t do well.

You should be someone with a more extroverted personality or at the least, an able and fearless communicator. The team will depend on you to help fight battles to keep them on track. This is arguably one if not the most important thing you’ll do daily.

8. Saying ‘No’

We can’t stress how important this is. Business owners and higher management have lofty goals. Most of the time, these goals are motivated by data and/or customer feedback. It’s difficult to see things on a micro level especially when it involves developing products.

Unless said individual is a trained Product Owner, they’re not going to be as knowledgeable of the limitations of the process. It is the responsibility of the Product Owner to put their foot down and say no when it makes sense.

Saying no can keep you on track. Saying no can save time and money.

9. Evaluations

An efficient Product Owner values the importance of learning from successes and failures, from mistakes and everything else in between. To truly shine, a Product Owner must shred all ego and adopt a positive approach toward evaluating each product/service.

The work isn’t done until you take stock of every step, roadblocks and stumbles along the way and identify key learnings to be applied to the next project.

10. Agility

As an Agile Product Owner, you owe it to yourself and the team to walk the walk and talk the talk. You should be the living embodiment of the discipline in more than just task-related situations.

When you are agile or flexible to accommodate different team issues, this inevitably increases productivity as team members feel more assured for their own well being and are therefore, likely to dedicate more of their time should you request.

A strong Product Owner is a deft hand at managing tasks & the team and a key component of that lies in their agility.

 

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Learning and gaining more skills is a lifelong process. But like the values and disciplines taught by Agile, you’re going to have to prioritise what’s important and tackle them step-by-step. Remember, you’re not in a race with anyone but yourself so give yourself the time and space to grow into a formidable Product Owner.

And, if you require additional training to equip yourself with all the necessary skills to perform your job on a competitive level, check out why academy!’s Scrum.org certified Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO) 3-day course!

 

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