There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to Product Ownership. This role is often confused with Project Manager or Business Analyst which may work as a proxy between the team and the customer. Sometimes a Product Owner shares responsibilities with a Project manager, and they both work on the exact product simultaneously.
There are many reasons for that - starting with a lack of knowledge and self-esteem and ending up with a lack of company trust and support.
In fact, it should be simple. A Product Owner owns:
and as such, they should be focused on maximizing the product value.
When we think about ownership the first thing that comes to our mind is “business”. A person that owns a business dedicates everything to it. That individual may hire a manager to help run the company but in the end, it is an owner who is responsible for everything. Choosing a wrong person to be the Product Owner may cause the team to work towards a wrong goal and market failure.
We should educate and empower people so they know their responsibilities. While working with the stakeholders and the Scrum Team, a Product Owner should influence everyone with the product goal. Everyone should know what the vision is and how we want to satisfy customer needs. This is crucial for the product to evolve and expand on the market.
If our Product Owner has the knowledge and trust they can make decisions. It brings more responsibilities as such a person should be available for the team and stakeholders. They should be collecting feedback and answering questions to make sure everyone is on the same page. This also helps with generating ideas and enables experimenting with new features.
The reality is that in many cases it is the CEO of the company that has both the product vision and power to make decisions. Even if such an approach works at the beginning, it does not scale at all. There are just too many things the company owner has to do in order to make everything run smoothly. This is why we should consider each product to be a small business and empower new owners.
When the Product Owner does not have full ownership over the product there will be confusion. Ownership would have no meaning which may lead to people losing confidence and self-esteem as their decisions would be continuously overwritten.
Scrum Masters should work closely with Product Owners and organizations so the right people have ownership over the products. Everyone should trust and respect that person's decisions.