First, let's Kill All the Product Owners

Grand Ballroom - Salon A/B/C/D

By now, we are all comfortable with the orthodoxy: the product owner discerns the needs of the customer and feeds them to developers in the form a prioritized backlog. Developers pull work from that backlog, always confident that they're working on the highest-priority feature at the moment, and never having to worry about how those priorities are allocated. This system is simple, efficient, and has helped many teams function better than they used to. It's also time for the system to die.

A few revolutionary companies are experimenting with the idea that developers should be in charge not only of when they build new features, but _what_features to build. Rather than mere code technicians following the will of a product and marketplace expert, developers themselves become experts in their product domain, building the tools users need-by conceiving of those tools themselves. Dispensing with the product owner creates an entirely new organizational tenor: one in which everyone is encouraged to master the business's domain, to organize their work in autonomous ways, and to take ownership of the purpose for which the organization exists.

Come listen to the the vision of an organization without product managers, explore its implications, consider its boundaries, and see if you're willing to take this bold step.

Tim Berglund's picture
Tim is a trainer for GitHub, a speaker internationally and on the No Fluff Just Stuff tour in the United States, and is co-president of the Denver Open Source User Group. He is a contributor to the Ratpack web framework, is co-presenter of the O'Reilly Git Master Class, co-author of Building and Testing with Gradle. He blogs occasionally at timberglund.com, and lives in Littleton, CO, USA with the wife of his youth and their three children.