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A Product Owner Self-Assessment

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A Product Owner Self-Assessment

Assessing Roman Pichler's Product Management framework, and the use of the DRIVEN acronym in the product manager's role.

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Last week I facilitated the first day of a Product Owner workshop. During that day we focused mostly on the usage of Scrum from the perspective of the Product Owner. The Team Radar was used as a Retrospective format and this provided useful input for today's second part of the workshop. If you want to know how we've used the Team Radar, check this blog post.

In this article, I'll describe two topics that were part of today's schedule. One is about Roman Pichler's Product Management framework. The other concerns the acronym DRIVEN which is described in Geoff Watts new book, "Product Mastery - From Good to Great Product Ownership."

Roman's Product Management Framework

Roman Pichler describes his Product Management Framework as a simple yet powerful tool that defines what product management is. It provides six core and six supporting knowledge areas. The former are particularly important to do a great job as a product manager or a product owner. The framework is optimized for the creation and the management of digital products using lean and Agile techniques, such as Lean Startup and Scrum.

You can use this framework to define your role and to see which skills you may be lacking. We used it as an enabler to share all kinds of tools and practices a Product Owner might use. The results were pretty overwhelming (in a positive way). As a group, we came up with a vast amount of tools that a Product Owner can use in his/her daily job. The framework proved to be a nice trigger to share all kind of ideas.

The DRIVEN Acronym

In the afternoon we wanted to focus on the necessary soft skills of a Product Owner. Based on the recently published book "Product Mastery" by Geoff Watts, we decided to use the acronym DRIVEN. This acronym describes the traits of a great Product Owner:

  • Decisive: willing and able to make decisions with incomplete information, and to allow others to make decisions too.
  • Ruthless: maintaining a relentless drive to maximize value and minimize risk while staying focused on the vision.
  • Informed: cultivating a voracious appetite to know the most possible about your product's domain while being prepared to act on incomplete information.
  • Versatile: being responsive to changing circumstances, both in terms of product development techniques and leadership style.
  • Empowering: creating a sense of shared ownership amongst all stakeholders and bringing people along with you on the journey.
  • Negotiable: having faith in one's vision while also being open to feedback and change.

Please read the book "Product Mastery" for the full context. It's definitely worth reading!

Questions to Consider

After we briefly explained the acronym DRIVEN, the group was divided into three smaller teams. Per team two traits were discussed. Every team got 10 minutes to answer the following questions:

  • What is meant with this specific trait?
  • What is an example of this trait being used in a good way within the organization?
  • What is an example of this trait being used poorly within the organization?
  • What rate would you give this trait on a scale from 1 - 10?

In this part, we deliberately used an organizational perspective on how the Product Owner role is fulfilled.

Discussing the DRIVEN Acronym

The four questions started some good in-depth discussions. The questions of how this trait was being used well or poorly proved to be especially valuable. We did learn that we should skip the question "what is meant with this specific trait?" People that don't have English as their native language might find the acronym DRIVEN a bit difficult to understand. Especially when you haven't read the book yet.

Although we did give a brief explanation of every trait, it took some effort to really grasp the meaning of every word. A better way would be to take more time explaining the traits at the start of the exercise. Afterward, write down the keywords and definitions so everyone can check these while answering the other questions.

Sharing the Results

After 15 minutes all the traits were discussed within the teams. Time for a demo and joint review of every trait. Again the questions with the tangible examples of how every trait is currently used within the organization triggered the best conversations.

The Individual Soft-Skills Assessment

Due to the joint discussion of the DRIVEN acronym, a shared understanding of every trait was created. As a next step, we offered every participant some time to assess the traits on their own role. As an extra step, we asked everyone to define one improvement for the upcoming period. After some of these improvements were shared with each other, we closed this part of the workshop.


The intention of today's workshop was to discuss concrete Product Owner tools and practices in the morning and define the soft skills in the afternoon. Although we did cover other topics, the Product Management Framework by Roman Pichler and the DRIVEN acronym by Geoff Watts were the main themes.

Overall I'm satisfied with the outcome. I can definitely recommend these ideas. There are two things I would do differently:

  1. Discuss the most relevant items from Roman's Product Management Framework in more detail. Today we've collected lot's of great tools and practices and (or but) discussed them only superficially.
  2. Offer more clarity about the meaning of the DRIVEN acronym during the exercise. Everyone should have a "cheat sheet" with the definitions and keywords. This would have made answering the other questions easier.

Hopefully sharing these practical experiences is useful for you as well! If you've got any questions about this approach, feel free to ask them.

scrum ,agile ,product management

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