Stephan van Rooden

Stephan van Rooden

The Introvert Product Owner


The second day of my Professional Scrum Product Owner training we do a recap of the Scrum Framework. One of the questions is: What characterises does a good product owner have? Quite often people state that a good product owner is extrovert. Which may sound logical but in fact is not always the case. Raising the question: Can a good product owner be introvert?

To be clear, an introvert person is not an antisocial or shy person. Introvert means being internally focussed, they are more reserved and reflective. Therefore the assumption would be that an extrovert Product Owner would be better in articulating the vision. Managing the different stakeholders and is able to work together proactively with Developers in creating a great Product Backlog.

Assumptions of extraversie

The assumption is that extroverts are better leaders. In a study done by Adam Grant it turns out that extroverts are more often in a leadership position. However, there is no data on whether they actually perform better. After investigating the effectiveness of leadership, Grant found that there is a relationship between the characteristics of a team and their leader. Extrovert leaders scored above average (16%) in achieved results when leading a passive team. However an extrovert leader with a proactive team will surprisingly perform below average. About 14% below average to be precise. A follow-up study found out that introverted leaders achieve better results when working together with a proactive team.

Matching characteristics

So what does this mean for Product Owners? Basically you can conclude that when you have a very pro-active Developers, they might benefit from having an introvert product owner. Still being able to make decisions and to manage stakeholders. Moreover managing stakeholders might be a challenge as well. Ideally, a Product Owner is an Ambivert, knowing when it is time to stop talking and listen or when they should speak up and motivate. In conclusion, look at the characteristics of your team and find a complementary product owner.

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