How to be a Successful Product Owner, by Ninon Laforce "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs December 12 2020 True Agile, agile product development, Career, Product Owner, ProductTank, producttank toronto, Scrum, Toronto, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 406 Ninon Laforce at ProductTank Toronto Product Management 1.624

How to be a Successful Product Owner, by Ninon Laforce


In this ProductTank Toronto talk, Ninon Laforce, then of Bluecat, provides us with some of the key skills and techniques needed to become a product owner. Her key points include:

  • What is a product owner
  • Becoming a great product owner
  • The responsibilities and challenges of a product owner

What is a Product Owner

A product owner addresses the challenges that product development teams have with conflicting directions or a lack of understanding about what product to build. In her time at Bluecat, Ninon was tasked with developing the product ownership role. Since everyone in a product team should “own the product” in some capacity it can be a strange role. However, in Ninon’s case, at a deep enterprise technology company like Bluecat, it was focused on coaching and developing the product managers and others to help them in their roles.

Becoming a Great Product Owner

A product owner differs from a product manager in that a product owner is more inward-facing than a product manager. A product manager may focus on market analysis, product vision, the roadmap among other things. On the other hand, a product owner tends to be part of the engineering team and focuses on product prioritization, internal demos, and team training. The two roles can then collaborate on areas such as marketing, customer care, and scheduling of releases and sprints.

A product owner should be detail-oriented with an understanding of the big picture, they should be an active listener and they should focus on aligning the team including product managers and subject matter experts around common goals. It is a role for a senior person and should be focused on delivery as well as providing leadership, clarity, and collaboration.

Responsibilities and Challenges of a Product Owner

The job of a product owner is to align engineers to the scope of the project and understand the priorities.  Product owners should seek out clarity and focus at all times. By keeping their eyes open for trouble they can communicate with their engineering teams to solve issues. In her experience at Bluecat, Ninon was able to use some of these same concepts to reduce complexity in new features and keep engineers on track.

The key takeaways from this talk are that product owners are needed to provide clarity to their teams so that engineers can deliver better solutions. They can work with engineering teams to develop solutions that create the most value for customers.