One of the product owner models that I’ve been sharing for many years is the 4-Quadrants of Product Ownership. I write about it in my new Scrum Product Ownership book and I’ve also shared it in this blog post.

But it recently struck me that I missed an important aspect of Product Ownership when I explored the quadrants.  

I think there should also be a quadrant that focuses on:

  • Self-awareness

  • Self-care

  • Personal growth & learning

  • And personal happiness

I know and can read your mind.

How in the world could I have “left out” these personal attributes? To be honest, I’m embarrassed. But that being said, it’s not too late to correct this wrong ;-)

Product Owner Happiness

In early 2017, I published a short article that referenced a post by Len Lagestee. The title was Even Happier Product Owners. Here’s the list of factors that Len mentioned being related to happiness:

  1. They are immersed with their customers;

  2. They have the time and space to be visionary and creative;

  3. They have true ownership over their product;

  4. They are receiving meaningful feedback about the performance of their products;

  5. They have a positive working relationship with their Scrum Master;

  6. They have an even better relationship with technical leads and designers;

  7. They are proud of what the team is delivering;

  8. They have embraced their constraints;

  9. And, they are keeping themselves healthy.

The Product Owner – Self Quadrant

Leveraging Len’s ideas and my own, I’d like to expand on what I think is included in the new 5th Quadrant – Self. I think some of the following ideas might surround that quadrant…

Empowered & Trusted

It starts with the organization giving you the empowerment and trust you deserve to truly “own” your product. In my experience, this is rare, but I have seen it. And the results for the product, and importantly the product owner, can be amazing.

And this may be something you might want to “test”. Everyone says that they trust and empower you. But early on, put their words to the tests…so that you know where you stand and can improve your situation.

A Member of the Team

There is something wonderful about being part of a tight, cohesive, and well-formed team. One where you have fun working together. Understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And are solely focused on a unique goal.

The product Owner role is unique in a Scrum team. However, don’t get lost in your role. Never forget that you are part of the TEAM and leverage all the good ness that this implies.

Quiet Time

I recommend journaling as a leadership and self-awareness technique in my leadership classes. One of the things I recommend is

Another part of this could be engaging in meditation or quiet walks in nature. Anything that gets you “away from the chaos” and allows time for thinking and reflection.

Note: if you’re an introvert, this is particularly important!

Investing in Yourself

I often use the Sharpen the Saw metaphor that Steven Covey chose for one of his 7-Habits. It really focuses on our journey in continuous learning. I think this not only grows us, but encourages us to help and mentor others.

Growth hear would include certifications, formal & informal training, writing, mentoring/being coaches, and generally being curious about the craft of product ownership.

Recharging your Batteries

Time is something incredibly valuable to all of us. And you need to ensure your reserving time to recharge. While this includes vacation time, it also implies that you’re taking time off regularly for yourself.

Exercise might be something that recharges your batteries. Or traveling for long weekends. Or visiting parks or historical parks. Whatever it takes, you need to ensure that you’re taking time for yourself. Even if it’s as simple as resting up at home.

Removing your Blind spots

All of us have historical baggage that we bring along with us every day. But many of us don’t understand how it comes into play in negatively affecting our performance.

One of the best ways to mitigate your blind spots is by taking 360-degree surveys that reach out to your working group. I use the Leadership Circle Profile in my coaching as a means of providing leadership skill and style feedback to folks I’m coaching. But there are many instruments that provide similar insights.

To my thinking, this is one of the only ways to truly get actionable feedback and insights that you can’t get by yourself.

Get a Mentor or Coach

Many years ago, two people reached out to me to serve as their mentor/coach around Product Ownership. One was Corey Bryan and the other Tina Story. I engaged both of them very loosely in helping focus and refine their learning journeys.

You’d have to ask them directly, but I think I’ve helped them successfully grow and evolve in their careers. I only bring this up to encourage folks to go out and find a mentor. It starts by asking and bringing your whole self to the relationship.

Wrapping Up

I’ve sort of saved the best for last.

It’s joy or doing what you love.

I love the Steve Jobs Stanford University commencement address from 2005. One of the key sharing’s he has is around loving what you do. He uses the metaphor of this being your last day.

That is, if this was your last day alive, are you about to do what you love?

If that answer comes back as a “no” for too many days in a row, then you must reflect on perhaps making a change.

The final aspect of personal care in your product ownership journey is ensuring you’re doing what you love!

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

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