From Push to Pull, Lesson 2: Ownership

In August, I started a new journey and also a new blog series: From Push to Pull covers my first observations and reflections at my new job. The first post is about communication: how basic habits negatively impact a workplace and contribute to create a Push system. This second post is about the importance of Ownership.

The Observation

Our product has received seriously negative customer feedback for a long time. One could therefore expect devoted engagement and a strong drive, but it wasn’t there. I wondered why?

Root cause analysis

Earlier difficult years had been tough on the organisation and many key roles were simply missing. Vital functions had also been outsourced, leaving a minimum of overloaded individuals to cater for a large business. And when you’re overloaded, you just try to keep your head above water. Taking ownership can be hard, Pull can be hard.

With its own staff overloaded, the organisation set up new initiatives with a traditional project structure and (mostly external) management… ambitious project managers with budgets, deadlines and that very specific skill to identify scope creeps. And here we definitely had ownership: but of the Project Plan, not the Product.

Add these together and we have a fertile soil for a Push system.

Ambitious project managers and overloaded staff is a dangerous combination. The project manager tries to help with meetings, checklists and friendly reminders but this only causes more stress and less value. In this environment product owners become project backlog secretaries. The ownership is lost, and with that the Pull. When motivation naturally decreased, progress did the same and to tackle that, more project management was added. This is an example of a common PMO anti-pattern. It doesn’t work.

From Push to Pull

You need to source wisely not to lose ownership of your product, your key business processes, and your customers.

Continuous improvement and development of business-critical products goes hand in hand with a sustainable organisation. People and teams that really cares, that can and will take ownership. People and teams that won’t accept Push.




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