6 Tips for the Product Owners on how to Manage Stakeholders

  1. Learn to say ‘no’ to stakeholders. People tend to ask for a lot of things. But your role as a Product Owner is to deliver products people use. Not to please everyone. In your role as a product owner, knowing when it says no makes the team focused on providing value, clear communication.

2. Stop treating all stakeholders equally. Draw a matrix, depending on the interest and power of your stakeholder, add it to the map. The ones:

  • on top right (high power and high importance) — manage them carefully, they are your promoters
  • on top left (high power and low interest) — keep them satisfied
  • on the bottom right (low power and high interest) — keep them informed, they are your supporters
  • on the bottom left (low power and little interest) — monitor them, do not spent much energy on them

3. Act like an owner to increase your mandate. You are the one who has the full ownership, control and knows the best the product. You own it! When I coach PO, I always do the mindset coaching as well because they must feel and act with vision, responsibility, secure on their actions. There is never a perfect way, but any decision is better than no decision.

4. Know your stakeholders’ interests by heart. If you want to succeed as PO, you must know your audience: what is the problem you are solving? What does your ideal customer thinks, feels, behaves? What do they need? How do they use your product?

5. Don’t be a proxy between the stakeholders and the Development Team. I’m a project manager by trade, and while the Project Manager must be the interface between the stakeholders and the development team, I always encouraged the open discussions, direct communications between the team and the stakeholders. While doing that, I saw there is a high engagement of the stakeholders in the product; their expectations are met better as the dev team understands better the customer. Plus that more brains together value more than one funnel.

6. Involve your Scrum Master / Agile Coach in stakeholder management. While you own the product, the Scrum Master/Agile Coach owns the process. They will help you with tools and techniques to manage the stakeholders and especially HOW to meet their expectations.

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