Super Power #9 – Leadership

So you’ll have to forgive this unabashedly America-centric theme, but I recently saw an ad for the new Captain America movie, and wondered how that might fit our growing list of PO powers. Then it hit me — he doesn’t actually have any super powers, but according to the super hero database he is, “…[A]n expert tactician and an excellent field commander, with his teammates frequently deferring to his orders in battle.”

This element of leadership is really important for a product owner team.  Let me explain…when we first started our transition to agile, our product owners were told they were supposed to write the stories, define the acceptance criteria, and prioritize that with stakeholders.  Then they needed to communicate that to the team and continue explaining things as they worked through their development.  But what about all the Business Systems Analysts (BSAs/BAs)?  They used to do a lot of that (though perhaps in a bit less directive way).

The teams all identified early on that there was a problem here, that BSAs were not nearly as well utilized as they had been in a pre-agile world.  And we also wanted to accomplish a number of strategic initiatives with the PO team including formal usability testing, click-throughs (in Adobe Fireworks), more direct observation of users, etc, etc, etc.  This stuff never happened though because the poor POs were trying to do all the analysis themselves because that’s what they were told.

Recently though, we decided to do something about this and I proposed the BSAs should take on the early analysis in a project as well as any of the research into financial calculations, etc (I work in Finance remember).  All of this work would be moved from POs and would be packaged up as small projects to be prioritized at our Meta Scrum.

So far so good.  Our Business Analysts are cranking through projects and our POs have been able now to focus on some really important issues too, like usability testing, story mapping with stakeholders, and sketchboard sessions (which I’ll be talking more about soon).

Do your business analysts fit into agile?  If so, how? If not, why?

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