“Leadership : How do you show up as a Product Person?”

Being Product Manager

Facilitated by Mic, Mul and Ignas

Cowtopia: Behind the Scenes

Game Hypothesis

Based on The Culture Game by Daniel Mezick:

  • Engagement is essential
  • All Agile improvement comes from self management and self organisation, rather than a specific framework or method.

The top impediment to self-management in teams is a lack of engagement. A primary way of generating a team-level decision is to invite the team to do something. An invitation is a request for a decision. Decisions are engaging. And only the engaged can self-manage. And self-management is where all the “continuous improvement” comes from. Therefore, inviting is a necessary and essential tool of the trade in Agile coaching.

Reference: Only The Engaged Can Actively Self-Manage

Game Roles

Team Captain / Scrum Master
Scrum Master is a servant leader - responsible for managing the process of Scrum, protecting the team, and helping remove impediments. She does whats needed to help the team achieve its goals by giving priority attention to the team’s needs.
A huge part of being a Scrum Master is facilitation. She uses her experience with Scrum to help ensure the team is set up for success. She’ll act as a mirror for the team, providing them with observations that they may choose to use to improve their work. Scrum Master is responsible for providing the right structure and process to help the team make high quality decisions.
A good Scrum Master will help protect the team from both internal and external influences so that the team can focus on whats really important: building working software.

Product Owner
Product Owner is the person responsible for the Return on Investment of the product. She has the responsibility of defining WHAT is to be built and maintains the product vision to set a clear goal for the team and organization. She determines and prioritizes what must be built by using that vision and by gathering requirements from stakeholders so the most valuable things are built first and authority to access if the WHAT that was built is done.

Development Team
With the Product Owner focused on WHAT the team is going to build, the Team is responsible for determining HOW best to do and deliver their work. Keeping the PO out of implementation helps the team ‘think outside the box’ and come up with innovative solutions. Unlike traditional project management, the team has the responsibility and authority for making whatever decisions as to when they’ll deliver and meet their commitments.

Overall, Agile software development puts a lot of trust in teams. In fact, you can’t have an agile team without letting it self-organize. A good Scrum team is leaderful, not leaderless. The leadership is emergent rather than assigned by an org chart.

Game Play - Scrum Ceremonies

Sprint Planning
The goal of Sprint Planning is for the team to make a commitment to the Product Owner as to what they’ll be delivering in the upcoming Sprint.
The meeting is timeboxed and consists of two parts:

  • The first half of the meeting is when the Team asks questions of the Product Owner to help clarify the PBIs in question.
  • In the second half of planning, the team breaks down the PBIs to which they are committing into tasks. The goal of this meeting is for the team to commit to what they’ll be delivering to the PO by the end of the Sprint. With practice, teams do quite well basing their commitments on the estimates (usually in story points) without having to consider the tasks.”

Daily Scrum
The Daily Scrum is one of our inspect and adapt loops. It’s timeboxed to 15 minutes. The goal of this meeting isn’t to blurt out a status report and fill our time with another meeting. It’s there to help team members synchronize their work. While the Scrum Master is there to listen for impediments he may have to help the team remove, he doesn’t run the meeting. It’s the team members’ meeting, and they self-organize to get it done.

Sprint Closing
The Scrum Framework has two ends to a Sprint:

  • The first is the Sprint Review - This is the public end of the sprint where the team demos the functionality they built during the sprint to the Product Owner and the Stakeholders to see progress.
  • The Private end of the sprint comes in the form of the Retrospective. This is also one of the inspect and adapt loops we have in the framework. It is only for the team to discuss freely whatever they wish. The sorts of deep conversations teams can have in this meeting don’t happen unless there is a lot of trust between team members. The outcome of this meeting should be 1 to 3 actionable items with the aim of improving their process during the next sprint.


Becoming an effective leader doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an interative process and requires you to assess your strength and evaluate who you are. We need to develop our own approach to become more effective leader.

Key Components of Leadership

Components of Leadership

“for an individual to be called a leader, power has to be in the equation”.
People don’t follow leaders without power. Knowing the different sources and limits to which one can exercise power in an organizational setting is essential. They are: coercive, reward, legitimate, expert, referent, information, charismatic, and moral.

A leadership style refers to a leader’s characteristic behaviors when directing, motivating, guiding, and managing groups of people. A few of the best-known leadership styles are: Authoritarian, Participative, Delegative, Transactional, Transformational, and more recently Servant Leadership.

Effective leaders exhibit personality qualities (traits) and characteristics that support their ability to mobilize others toward a shared vision. Understanding these variety of traits can help organizations identify, train, and develop leaders. For example:

  • Radiate positive energy
  • Have a proactive attitude
  • Delegate tasks completely
  • Approachable
  • Do what they expect of others
  • Accountable
  • Decisive

Practice and Inspire it

Leaders create Leaders

Agile leadership is

  • Creating an environment of trust
  • Demonstrating and expecting accountability
  • Sharing power with the group

Agile leadership is not…

  • Always being the nice person
  • Watching the team crash and burn
  • Hold a committee meeting to discuss every decision

Side Quest