By now, we are all familiar with the new 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.
Shakespeare wrote, “The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.” It might be time to apply this aphorism to product management.
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 ready to hear ground-breaking ideas and engage in group discussion about how these ideas might be put into practice in your workplace.
Tim is a teacher, author, and technology leader with Confluent, where he serves as the Senior Director of Developer Experience. He can frequently be found at speaking at conferences in the United States and all over the world. He is the co-presenter of various O’Reilly training videos on topics ranging from Git to Distributed Systems, and is the author of Gradle Beyond the Basics. He tweets as @tlberglund, blogs very occasionally at http://timberglund.com, is the co-host of the http://devrelrad.io podcast, and lives in Littleton, CO, USA with the wife of his youth and their youngest child, the other two having mostly grown up.