Chapter 3. Plan to Learn Faster

This is my friend Eric, standing in front of his backlog and task board in his team room. He’s a product owner working hard with his team to build a successful product, but right now it’s not. That doesn’t worry Eric, though. He has a strategy for making his product successful. And so far it’s working.

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Eric works for a company called Liquidnet. Liquidnet is a global trading network for institutional investors. Long before Eric came to stand in front of the board in the picture, someone at his company identified a group of customers Liquidnet could serve better, along with a few ideas of how to do that. Eric is part of a team that took those ideas and ran with them. That’s what product owners do. If you thought they were always acting on their own great ideas, well, you’re wrong. One of the hard parts of being a product owner is taking ownership of someone else’s idea and helping to make it successful, or proving that it isn’t likely to be. The best product owners, like Eric, help their entire team take ownership of the product.

Start by Discussing Your Opportunity

Eric didn’t start his work by building a backlog of user stories. He started with the big idea someone had, and treated it like an opportunity for his company—because it was. He had conversations with leadership in his company to understand more. They discussed:

  • What is the big idea?
  • Who are ...

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