How to be a Successful Product Owner – Love and Integrity

I have had this post ready for a long time.  Like, a really long time.  But I could not pull the trigger and publish it.  Finally, in the last few days, I figured out why – being afraid of my discipleship.  Let me explain and, I hope, provide comfort to those who are not “religious.”
Please, bear with me on this.
Before I became a Christian and a Believer, I was not.  Period.  Did not believe in God.  Thought those that did were nuts.  And, if someone wrote about, or talked about, or I read something from somewhat that was about “Religion,” frankly I was offended.  So, now, today, I figured out that I am afraid to offend someone with all the Jesus talk.  So, please, please.  I know you are primarily here for the Product Owner and Business Analyst stuff.  And, if you don’t care about “the Jesus talk,” I hope you will give me grace.  In the meantime, I’m clicking publish, I’m done with being afraid, and, it’s my blog – I can talk about Jesus if I want to!  But, also, I want this blog and entry to help you.
Previously I wrote about how you cannot and should not try to be perfect.  Only Jesus was the perfect human being; we are not!  (That’s one of the reasons why it’s so great to have Him in one’s life!)  So moving beyond trying to be perfect will free you to excel – both as being a BA, Product Owner and in life in general.  So, next up on my list is “Love.”
I bet that strikes you as being kind of odd.  “I’m here reading this to become a better Product Owner and Business Analyst – so what’s love got to do with it?”  (Thank you Tina Turner.)  Well, I actually had not intended to tie Christianity further into this post – but I guess God’s just going to make it happen.  I’m glad you ask why “love” is involved.  In case you didn’t know, Jesus said love is the ultimate commandment:
‘Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘ Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV
Back to my personal experience, and my advice for you – showing love, compassion, caring, sympathy at times when things are not going well for the department or business, will help you go far.  And by this, I mean sincerely.  I mean, you have to feel it in your heart.  I watch BA’s and PM’s in meetings.  They smile, they nod.  But, I can tell, they don’t care.  That may or may not come across in the meeting (most of the time, it does and that simply does not help anything), but after the meeting; that “love lost” translates into the BA / PM not caring and not moving the project forward.  The project quality may suffer due to not caring emotionally.  The tasks of the project simply don’t get done and the project falls behind schedule because they don’t physically want to do it.  So, search your heart.  Do you love what you do?  Do you sincerely care for the organization?  The project?  If not, this is going to greatly impact how you perform.
Several items above, including performance, relate directly to “Integrity” – so that’s why I went ahead and lumped that trait or quality into this writing.  To be successful for your stakeholders, you have to get the job done.  Back to “being imperfect,” if you don’t know the answer, you have to have integrity and follow up with the answer.  Your stakeholder is trusting you to be their guide; their hero; to help them excel / grow / get out of the jam they are in.  You cannot do this without integrity.  I’ve seen projects where it’s been attempted, and at first it looks like the project is succeeding or completed, but then holes are found and the stakeholders slowly figure out that the PO / BA / PM really didn’t do their job.  (See where the love is then! 😉)  Again, integrity is critical to success – and it has to be sincere – which goes right back to love.  See, tying the two together worked out – all thanks to Him.
I sincerely hope that after reading this, you will stop and reflect – for many minutes – about where your heart is.  Not only in your Product Owner / Business Analyst / Project Manager job.  But, in life.  Do you smile?  Do you enjoy what you do?  Do you enjoy the people you associate with?  Are they good people to be associating with?  Is your heart truly filled with love?  Find healthy ways to make sure it is.  And, yes, one more plug for Christianity.  In my MANY years of doing life and career, including reading all the best business books and “self-help” out there, I only came to Christ in the past 10-ish years and quickly found that His way is the only way I have found, and you will find, that works.

Keyboard Clicks

I’ve come to a realization in my career. One that in retrospect has been true all of my career and could be one of the most significant indicators of the long-term success, or failure, of businesses and organizations big and small. Keyboard Clicks.

I’ve been thinking about recent observations and then comparing them to observations I’ve made as I have worked with businesses ranging from mom and pop pizza restaurant delivery services to the U.S. Military. As you walk around organizations – including you own – do you hear a ton of keyboard clicking? If you do, then you might think, “Wow, this is a busy, and therefore productive and profitable place.” But in reality, that is the sound of complacency.

Over time, I’ve seen businesses go through this pattern:

  • They find a cool (or not so cool) piece of software.
  • They use it to really ramp up their organization, usually using it as their cornerstone.
  • They hit a plateau where they rely on that software – and the clicking that goes into it.


They don’t continue to improve in what they do, nor do they grow.  They keep on doing the same old thing – over and over – for years. Sure, they increase revenue over time and hire more people. But, that’s the thing – they have to hire more and more people to keep clicking keyboards to increase that revenue. But, at the end of the day, the CEO (and worse yet the Board and investors) wonder why they don’t see stronger growth.

So, what does that CEO – or you as a competent product owner/ analyst/technology leader looking to make a difference in your organization – need to be looking at?

  • Automate and stop the keyboard clicking – let people focus on more important things like working with other people.  Others in the organization to help it grow and do the things only people can do, talk to customers to help them with the problems people solve best. (Radical, I know!)  And, as a bonus, you will remove human error.
  • Process Improvement – if you can’t remove the clicking, can you reduce it?
  • Strategy – has your organization taken a fresh look at its short-term and long-term strategies?  Is it stuck and needs to get unstuck and grow into new areas? 

I challenge you to stop right now and listen. What do you hear? Do you hear a ton of keyboard clicking? What are you going to do about it?