Hiring Product Owners
This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
Right now, there are more than 300 open job positions for Product Owner only in Spain in LinkedIn. Hiring Product Owners has become a huge headache for most companies, as well as developing internal talent.
Finding a great Product Owner in the market is as difficult as finding a unicorn. Demand for talent for digital businesses is growing fast and certain vital and difficult roles like Product Owner are rare species.
We have been talking with many Heads of Product and Product Directors and we realize how difficult is to find good Product Owners in the market.
Great Product Owners will only leave their current company for an attractive opportunity in an awesome company and their compensation expectations might be well far from your reach.
Besides, most Product Owners who are available in the market or within your company lack the necessary skills to successfully lead a product development team. And, even those Product Owners who have the skills might lack fundamental industry specific background.
Hiring an experienced and skilled Product Owner who can really make a difference and drive business growth by delivering great customer experiences is really tough. In the end, you will spend several months to hire a person who is not what you need and spend time and money upgrading their skills.
Let’s see why this happens.
Agile in IT
Most companies doing Agile are just doing agile in IT. It is still the old service-provider paradigm between the business and IT that Agile was supposed to fix. What happens between ideation and delivery is purely waterfall, and a lot of time is wasted before something gets to a delivery team.
Agile was born to bridge the gap between business and technology but it didn’t solve the underlying problem, and in doing so it just created a funny “bridge” called Product Owner, which in most cases is neither Product nor Owner.
Agile focuses on delivery, not in discovery and business success. So, in the best of the situations, we end up having teams delivering fast, iteratively and incrementally stuff that nobody wants. Which creates Product Owners who are experts in delivering and executing orders.
Project Managers on Steroids
Heads of Product, Chief Product Officers and Product Managers are looking for certain skills in the market they can not find. These are skills of traditional Product Management, Business, Strategy, Marketing and Sales combined with modern mindset and techniques from Lean Startup, Lean UX, Agile and Lean.
As many Product Owners come from a technical or project management background they lack those skills required to build products customers love. Their experience and background is on delivery.They are basically order-takers, as someone tells them what to do and they execute with the help of the team.
In the best case they get a Business Case; in the worst, they get projects. It is rare the case in which the POs receive strategic objectives and they are the ones in charge of developing a business case and validating it iteratively with the clients as well as launching MVPs until they reach Product-Market Fit.
The Lean Organization
The majority of the Product Owners come from an engineering background or project management background. So, they lack basic Product Management skills. However, most Product Owners don’t need those skills because in the way their companies are organized they are basically order takers, delivery managers or backlog administrators.
But, what happens if they want to look for another job in a real product organization? What if their company decides to restructure and become a real customer-centric product organization?
To become truly agile, companies need to organize for products and leverage the role of the Product Owner, making them real Product Managers with total responsibility developing products customers love and for generating business benefits.
In digital businesses, it is key that the product manager and product owner is the same person. If you split these roles into two people, you will prevent your team from innovating and continuously creating value for your business and your customers. Furthermore, the additional responsibilities of the product manager are what enables good product owner decisions in a product company and they are what is mostly missing in the market.
Our Approach to Hiring Product Owners
If you are one of those managers concerned about the insufficient skills of your Product Owners and the difficulty to hire great Product Owners in the market we have something for you.
Unlike most, we offer you a specific program that will get you the great Product Owners you need. We have a program designed to successfully develop great Product Owners within your company with the help of our expert product coaches and consultants, saving you time and money and bringing modern product management capabilities into your organization.