The Guardrails For Product Managers and Product Owners

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The guardrails are our agreements with each other across the enterprise. Each role, however, manifests these agreements in different ways. The following provides more detail on what the guardrails mean for product managers and product owners.

Promise: Create psychological safety

Products managers and owners job is to present to the programs and groups what is to be worked on. They should not be adding pressure to this. Doing so will encourage taking short cuts in design and implementation. It can even lead to incomplete testing.

Promise: Accelerate value realization

As you get closer to the actual implementation of work, you need to define the specifics of what you are going to work on. This requires clarity about what value can be realized soonest. It is the product manager’s responsibility to specify MBIs based on the needs of the business and the projected cost given to them by technology.

Promise: Collaborate proactively

No matter how well planned out work is, there will be many people who are overburdened with requests. While they can always do a request for one team if doing so doesn’t adversely affect other teams, that is usually not the case. When conflicts arise, the deciding factor is what lowers the cost of delay. Understanding what is important is a key for this.

Product Managers also have the role of coaching business stakeholders into why product management is so critical. They are one of two key roles (product owners being the other) in bridging the gap between business stakeholders and technology.

Promise: Make all work and workflow visible

Visibility also means “why this work is important.” MBIs provide a way to have line of sight from features and stories to what the company is focusing on.

Promise: Increase predictability

The biggest cause of unpredictability of the realization of value is unplanned work that causes unforeseen delays. Much of this work is due to overloading of teams. To avoid having too much work in process it is important to know when to say “no”. This requires saying “yes” only to the most important work.

Promise: Keep workloads within capacity

Too much work not only affects predictability, it also delays the realization of value. MBIs are a key aspect of the intact process – allowing technology to pull the most important work as they have capacity.

Promise: Improve Continuously

Complex systems always have areas of improvement although they are often difficult to see. The combination of focus on value, visibility, collaboration and working at a sustainable pace provides opportunities for improvement.

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