Product Owners – Are you “Happy”?

Product Owners – Are you “Happy”?

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In his latest newsletter, Len Lagestee wrote about Even Happier Product Owners. The piece shared 9 conditions of happiness for the Product Owner. Here’s a link to the blog post.

And here’s the list:

  1. They are immersed with their customers;
  2. They have the time and space to be visionary and creative;
  3. They have true ownership over their product;
  4. They are receiving meaningful feedback about the performance of their products;
  5. They have a positive working relationship with their Scrum Master;
  6. They have an even better relationship with technical leads and designers;
  7. They are proud of what the team is delivering;
  8. They have embraced their constraints;
  9. And, they are keeping themselves healthy.

I really like Len’s list as a baseline for the happiness and performance of the Product Owner role. I’d like to compare the list against my 4-Quadrants of the Product Owner role model.

1-4 and 8 appear to be more focused towards external interactions and product feedback. If you consider this list from my 4-Quadrants perspective, this would be within the Product Management quadrant.

5-7 appear to be focused towards team ward collaboration. From a 4-Quadrants perspective, this might fall within the Leadership quadrant.

And interestingly, 9 is something that I didn’t really call out in the 4-Quadrants. While it might fall into the Leadership Quadrant, I thank Len for calling it out so specifically here. Because it’s truly that important that the Product Owner achieve a healthy balance.

I also found it equally interesting to see what was missing from Len’s list. I think it’s fair to say that there is no representation of the Business Analysis and Project Management Quadrants. Perhaps these two are too tactically focused to make the list. In other words, they are not as interesting to focus on. One could argue that the BA is more team ward and the PM is more outwardly focused as well, so there is some balance to what’s “in” and what’s “out”.

I’m not nit-picking, just saying that the list isn’t quite as broad as I’d like.

First, I want to thank Len for the thoughtful article and I want to encourage everyone to read it.

Second, I want to poke a bit into the “happiness” point. To my thinking, true happiness in a role is based on doing a great job. You see it all of the time in sports. If a team is losing, every little issue seems to be amplified. But if the team is winning, everything seems to go smoothly.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that happiness is related to quality of contribution and to the results. So, while this list is helpful, it needs to have two things:

  • First, it needs to have a more holistic view to the role. That’s where the 4-Quadrants are helpful in better “fleshing out” the role.
  • And second, I’d like to see the whole list focus more on team-based results. That is, aligning with the Product Owner being a part of the team AND setting the stage for everyone’s success – Customer, Business, and Team.

Keep up the good work Len!

Stay agile my friends,


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