The Evolution of a Product Owner — a comparison of popular Product Management Maturity Models

David Theil
8 min readDec 30, 2023

A Product Owner is not a backlog administrator, nor a strategic role without hands-on tasks.

Product Owners are not responsible for defining the requirements of a feature. — the whole Scrum Team is.

Product Owner is a role that does Product Management and executes different tasks to fulfill good Product Management.

If you have your Product Owners specifying tickets you do it wrong and don’t get the most out of your Product Owners.

Does this sound right or wrong to you? Please let me explain.

I have been in different positions at a couple of companies, from small startups to big software development organizations. I was Head of Software Development, Product Owner, Scrum Master, Agile Coach, and Software Engineer. I was even a classical Project Manager and Change Agent.

So, I have seen a lot. The common understanding of the Product Owner role differs a lot, depending on with whom you talk.

This is bad because different understandings and expectations lead to conflicts and may make people unhappy. Imagine you start your new role as a Product Owner at a company and after a couple of weeks you figure out that they live the role in a very different way than you would like to live it. You might leave the company after a couple of months because the discrepancies are too big.

So let’s get into the role and talk about different maturity models.

What is the role of a Product Owner?

The Scrum Guide as simple as it is, defines the Product Owner in the following way:

“The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. How this is done may vary widely across organizations, Scrum Teams, and individuals. The Product Owner is also accountable for effective Product Backlog management, which includes:
Developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal;
Creating and clearly communicating Product Backlog items;
Ordering Product Backlog items; and,
● Ensuring that the Product Backlog is transparent, visible and understood.
The Product Owner may do the above work or may delegate the responsibility to others. Regardless, the Product Owner remains accountable. For Product Owners to succeed, the entire…