The term "Product Owner"

Dear Product Owners and Agilists,

I made the experience that almost all (new) customers who want to start a new agile project claim the role of the Product Owner. However, this is not because have the perfectly trained people for this role, but because of a misinterpretation of term “product owner”, with the emphasize on “owner”. They think that because it is their product that we build, they “own” it and thus the Product Owner must be on their side. This misunderstanding can of course be clarified, but it often has to be.

So I have some doubts as to wether the term “Product Owner” is really a good choice for this role. Did you had similar experiences? Please let me know.

Best regards,
Volker

I made the experience, that a lot of companies only using the term product owner because it implies agil working, even if they don’t do it :smiley:

Honestly, I did not make the experience you described. But, I know the problem of being a product owner without having the responsibilities and the trust of the leaders. But maybe that can also be a symptom of owning the product owner :smiley: maybe you can describe it a little bit more?

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Although the customer usually states that he will provide the “Product Owner”, these POs usually don’t act as such. They are more product managers in that they share their product vision and help clarifying requirements. But they do not write user stories, nor do they organize the backlog. The word “owner” seems to trigger the customer: It is their product, they “own” it and thus, the product owner must be on their side. It’s a common misunderstanding.

But as I said: It could always be clarified. Nevertheless, I have some doubts as to whether the term “Product Owner” is ideal.

Yes I have seen that, but that usually went away quickly, once the role was described as “works directly with the team and is part of the team”.

What’s better ? Sorry to give the lawyer answer, but : It depends (on the context).

For the team organisation, it fits well, if you see the English context as well.

For the business mgmt, esp. in a german context, too much is lost in translation. I try to push the title/role “product sponsor” for them instead. “Sponsor” is well established in German goes down well, too.