Working Agile

A glimpse into the life of a Product Owner

Having courage, motivate and inspire. According to Product Owner & Agile Coach Mireille Loerts, these are three core competences that a Product Owner should possess. Quintopper Sanne Rietveld asked her opinion about what a Product Owner should be capable of and what the biggest challenges are in agile.

When did you become acquainted with the agile philosophy?

In 2014, I was approached by ING for the role of Product Owner. They had just started a transformation to the agile way of working. I went on this agile journey together with them. 1.5 years later there a fully-fledged agile organization was realized, in which I contributed my part.

Why do you believe in agile?

I believe in agile because responsibilities and ownership are allocated to teams. This creates a good basis for commitment to a service/product. I have also seen how enthusiasm and engagement is promoted by the agile way of working. Because teams work in short cycles, they can work with focus.

What do you think is the biggest challenge within agile at the moment?

It requires a new way of managing. In addition, it requires both the employees and management to abandon the traditional way of working. Letting go of old ways of working often is difficult, and requires trust. Moreover, employees are given more and more freedom and thus also more responsibility to organize their own work. This isn’t easy for everyone.

What makes you a good Product Owner and how does this role give you energy?

In my opinion, a product owner must posses a variety of skills; being able to prioritize, manage stakeholders and motivate your team are just a few examples of this. As a product owner, I get energy when I see my team enjoying themselves and when i can let them see the benefits of agile. When they really use their potential in their work, these benefits really manifest themselves. Because of my human approach, enthusiasm and knowledge of the agile philosophy, I know how to win people for me quickly. This usually results in a good cooperation.