There is a myth going around that a technical person should never become a Product Owner. During the Winter 2016, one local
company in my city even organized a meetup for Agile enthusiasts to discuss the dangers of having a Product Owner
who is a technical person as well. I believe that the issue here is not really whether the Product Owner is too
technical, but whether the Product Owner is a good business person.
There are many benefits to having a Technical Product Owner. Some of the benefits were excellently described by Steve Vaughn
in this blog post
. But what are the dangers?
For those who claim that technical Product Owners are always dangerous for the product, the first question to ask is what if
your product domain is technical? Would you hand off the product intended for other developers to someone who
has not developed software themselves?
Understanding the technology usually helps to understand the trade-off better.
In case that your product is not in the technical domain, is having a technical Product Owner dangerous for the product?
It is not, no more than having a non-technical Product Owner who does not know his product's domain. It all comes
down to how good Return-Of-Investment the Product Owner is creating. While someone might claim that a technical
Product Owner might be tempted to care first about the technology and not about the users needs, a good technical
Product Owner should still care about the business itself first.
Understanding technology usually helps to understand the trade-off better, and therefore generate a better Return-Of-Investment.
One of the best CTOs I had the pleasure to work with did not only have a vast amount of technical knowledge,
but was also an amazing salesman with a deep understanding of the products he worked on. In a hypothetical scenario
where I am the stakeholder, and he is the Product Owner, I would sleep soundly each and every night.
Finally, what does it mean to be too technical? Would you ever say that someone is too business-savvy? You
can never know too much if you want to stay in business. Strive to know as much as you can about anything
that can give you an edge over your competitors.