Scrum Product Ownership - Navigating the Forest AND the Trees, 3'rd Edition
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Scrum Product Ownership - Navigating the Forest AND the Trees, 3'rd Edition

Navigating the Forest AND the Trees

About the Book


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.

About the Author

Robert Galen
Robert Galen

Bob Galen is an Agile Methodologist, Practitioner & Coach based in Cary, NC. In this role he helps guide companies and teams in their pragmatic adoption and organizational shift towards Scrum and other agile methodologies and practices. He is Director, Agile Practices at Zenergy Technologies, a leading agile transformation company. He is also President and Head Coach at RGCG a boutique agile coaching firm.

Bob regularly speaks at international conferences and professional groups on topics related to software development, project management, software testing and team leadership. He is a Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC), CAL I trainer, and an active member of the Agile & Scrum Alliances.

He’s published three agile focused books: The Three Pillars of Agile Quality and Testing in 2015, Scrum Product Ownership, 3’rd Edition in 2019, and Agile Reflections in 2012.  He’s also a prolific writer & blogger (at - ) and podcaster (at )

Bob may be reached directly at: or networking via:

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Table of Contents

The third edition has been organized into four sections as follows:

The Role. Chapters 1–5 are focused on the basics of the roles and responsibilities of a Scrum product owner. I introduce the 4 Quadrants of Product Ownership as a model that explores the depth, breadth, and incredible nuance of the role.

The Backlog. Chapters 6–9 delve into user stories, product backlogs, and the basics for organizing your backlogs. I consider the product backlog to be the central plan for agile teams, so here we explore it in detail.

The Sprint. Chapters 10–14 discuss the product owner’s activity and engagement before, during, and after sprint execution. Talking about product ownership is one thing, but the devil is in the doing!

The Organization. Chapters 15–19 changed the most for the third edition. Scaling models, product organization models, and portfolio planning are all covered in much more detail than in previous editions.

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