Agile Product Collection
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Agile Product Collection

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About the Books

Scrum Product Ownership - Navigating the Forest AND the Trees...

Navigating the Forest AND the Trees
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LeanPub will have PDF, Mobi, and Epub versions available.

The Mobi and Epub versions are 100% complete and mirror the final text of the book.

The PDF contains the final text, but is waiting to be indexed (as in the paper version). Also, keep in mind that I will endeavor to keep the PDF up to date with corrections, minor adjustments, and the occasional major addition as my experience and thinking evolves. None of the other copies will evolve in this way. So, pay attention to the PDF...


When I published the first edition of this book in 2009, my purpose was to fill the gap in basic guidance around the role of product owner. Very little existed at that time, and many people were struggling to execute the basics of the role. My intent was to provide a 101-style guide that covered those basics and related Scrum and agile practices.

From 2009 to 2012 the initial edition met that objective quite well. During that time, the agile community evolved. Scaling started becoming more of a challenge, and so did portfolio-level backlogs. The lean software community also started developing. So, I published the second edition in 2013 to refresh the book’s treatment of these and other developments. I also provided more real-world stories, while preserving the value the book would have to a first-time product owner.

From 2013 to 2016 our community continued to evolve. Scaling has continued to be a challenge and SAFe has become the leader in that space. DevOps and UX interests are now being incorporated into agile instances. Weaving architectural strategies and other technical workflow into backlogs is still a challenge. But while there are advances, I still encounter many product owners who struggle to prioritize a backlog, figure out effective ways to write technical user stories, or get anyone to attend and engage with their sprint reviews. As it turns out, the basics are still a challenge for new and experienced product owners alike.

This evolution, and the challenges that accompany it, have inspired me to write the third edition of this book. My overarching goal is to maintain its usefulness as a guide to the beginning product owner, but also provide a relevant resource for experienced product owners who are struggling with today’s real-world problems.

From the Inside Out

Nearly every conversation in this book starts with your interactions with your agile or Scrum team. I’m certainly not downplaying the importance of being customer- or outward-facing as a product owner. But I’ve seen so many Scrum product owners who focus exclusively on the outward direction and forget how much their team’s need them.

While I honor how difficult this role is, I want to emphasize the characteristics of great product owners as they engage their teams in the moment of execution and delivery. That, before they look externally, they have established a firm partnership with their team and are spending sufficient time with them.

I often say that the prime directive of a product owner is to feed their team well. This exemplifies the inside out mindset and posture I think is so important for effective product ownership.

Scrum Product Ownership - AJI Maturity Model

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Bill Krebs is an experienced Agile Coach and practitioner. He’s worked at IBM, as an independent coach, and is now coaching at AllScripts, in Raleigh, NC. He is the sole proprietor of Agile Dimensions, an agile training and coaching firm.

Bill has introduced the notion of an Agile Maturity Index. It’s an agile maturity evaluation framework that can be used to assess and communicate team performance. It established a baseline of performance that coaches and teams can leverage to focus their continuous improvement efforts on.

This is a PDF Overview of the History of the AJI and the implementation:

In my writing of Scrum Product Ownership AND in my coaching, I’ve found it useful to be able to “quantify” the maturity level of the Product Organization. It helps in communicating gaps and planning for improvement. It also helps in determining whether an organization should even be “going” agile in the first place—assessing if they are even ready for it?

Bill is working on an AJI book as of February 2013. I believe his target for publication is early Q2 2013. I’ve developed this adjunct to the AJI because I like his framework and I felt the “program side” needed a bit more definition.

I hope you find it useful…

Spring 2019 Update

Bill still hasn’t formally published the book and I’m uncertain of any date targets he might have.

I’ve reviewed and updated this version of the extension. I’ve also extended or added to my initial AJI interpretation by adding the following Shu-Ha-Ri interpretation for each of the different characteristics:

Shu level: beginner, novice, needs more prescriptive advice and coaching

Ha level: More experienced, solid skills, more consistent tactics and results, but still learning

RI Level: Expert level, solid skills, but more adaptive or situational in their use, continuous improvement, learning, embrace failure.

The intent is to focus your more on growth and learning across each layer, rather than on evaluating a specific grade or numeric skill level.

This update is intended to compliment the Third Edition of the Scrum Product Ownership book.

Agile Reflections for Agile Product Owners

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Checkout some of the themes from my blog here:

To get a taste for the writing and topics...

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