Why this Product Owner role is like reading the Bible

MONGOOSE GRAY Published: July 11, 2019
London, United Kingdom
Job Type


In the beginning…

…the Earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind swept over the face of the waters. God said, ‘It’s too windy and I can’t see what I’m doing.’ So he said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters.’ And guys came with clipboards and said, ‘You can’t put that dome there.’ And God said, ‘I filed the paperwork,’ and the guys said, ‘We didn’t get it,’ and God realised he needed some help and he hadn’t even invented Excel yet.

God said, ‘This is a fast-growing organisation that needs robust internal processes for continued and accelerated growth.’ And the angels said, ‘You need to talk to HR.’ And HR asked for someone with experience in a structured, corporate environment with rigour and due diligence, like a bank. And HR told God they’d need a job title for the contract and he said, ‘Business analyst? Process excellence specialist? Just make it sound official.’

Then God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird. And HR said, ‘Those winged birds are great, good work God. But they’re no good at system design and process modelling. Could you create a Lean Six Sigma qualification? We’ll take care of getting them to Black Belt.’ And God said, ‘It’s on the list.’

So God created Humankind in his image, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ And HR took humankind aside and had a quiet word: ‘We really need you to focus on process and structure – you know, building a centre of excellence.’ And Humankind said, ‘What, like that dome in the midst of the waters?’ and HR stared at them impatiently because a lot had happened since the beginning and they’d not had much sleep.

Humankind said, ‘Sorry, you were saying?’ and HR said, ‘Introduce procedures into the organisation, run workshops, and liaise between the internal functions, like us, and Legal, and Finance, and the technical disciplines, like product development and engineering.’ And Humankind said, ‘Righty-ho.’

God saw everything that he had made and it was very good. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And Humankind got excited about stamps in their passport because they had created a template for process excellence to be rolled out globally: New York, Sydney, Tokyo. And Humankind saw this would be challenging because of different working cultures and practices, so they resolved to be culturally sensitive and maybe not base recruitment ads on holy scriptures.

And then it was the sixth day and word got out that there was a kind of important deadline. And the work did become dynamic and fast-paced. And humankind realised that things they’d been working on for ages could shift at the last minute and the angels said, ‘Exhilarating isn’t it!’ and some of Humankind said, ‘Yeah!’ and those were the high-energy, high-impact, highly-driven individuals who didn’t spend their whole lives sweeping up after winged birds. They had superb stakeholder management skills, they were comfortable with all levels of management right up to C-suite, and they had excellent communication skills, credibility and gravitas. If there had been accelerated junior management programmes, which there weren’t because, hello, there wasn’t even anything at all six days ago, where were we, oh yeah, junior management programmes, they’d have been on them.

And the angels saw to it that the progression opportunities were huge. Building a process excellence function meant that Humankind built a network within the firm, saw every department and were offered a choice of career paths. They also earned up to 50K plus benefits, and all they’d had to do was send their CV and a covering letter outlining their suitability for the role. And they were based in London, UK, which means quite a few really important maps are very possibly wrong.

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