On the surface, this statement appears as if I’ve lost my mind. For one thing, a traditional view to Product Owners is as a Product Manager or customer/business stakeholder-facing role. And the traditional Project Manager is more so a planning and execution focused role. The two are quite far apart and seem to have little synergy.
The other factor is traditional versus agile contexts.
There are no “traditional” Product Owners. Usually a Product Manager is in essentially the role but it’s very outwardly and upwardly facing. Once the requirements are “signed off”, they’re not that interested in collaborating with the team until the end of the project.
This has been an ongoing debate for a number of years. There are essentially three groups of Project Managers:
- Traditional Project Managers – they’ve typically operated in Waterfall environments and frequently reference the PMBOK. They often follow best practices, templates, and models for effectively “managing” projects. Usually they view success to be plan-driven.
- Agile Project Managers – who are normally quite different than their traditional counterparts. They focus on the team and are more facilitators and coaches than project managers. They also consider success to be team-driven.
- Then there are Traditional Project Managers who want to play in agile environments, so they start looking for specific tools and techniques that they can “borrow” from the agile approaches. They take more of a hybrid approach to project management, and this group seems to be increasing as agile approaches have become mainstream. Often these folks have acquired PMI-ACP certification, but they have little else in the way of real world agile experience.