“That was very good, but I know you can do it better!” said Randy Pausch to his students, not knowing what he should have said. They have been very good in his eyes. And … they improved after saying this.
“I have a desire for absolute perfection; I am very demanding and never compromise until I absolutely have to.” — Twyla Tarp
What role does the Product Owner play in a Scrum development environment! He demands! He knows what he wants, he knows he wants the perfect product and the maximum result. Steve Jobs, Guy Lamberté, Twyla Tharp are perfect product owners.
They are perfectionist. I do not say they are nice people but they know what they want. They have a Vision and they have a clear understanding of quality. Now Guy Lamberté does not know what he wants, when he asks the artists to work on a trapeze act. – At least this is my interpretation of what was said in “Fire Within” (A documentary about the Cirque du Soleil). He wants the best trapeze act, an astonishing one, a sexy one, an act that will blow the audience away. So he asks for the maximum and then when he sees the result and most of the time he is not happy! But he demands! He creates constraints.
A Product Owner is NOT the one who knows everything better than the people who work for him. But he knows, what kind of result he expects. They strive for perfection, they are constantly not satisfied. That is ok! They are not the development teams best friend, but they are fair.
In all coachings, my own one and by observing other people coaching and talking to very experienced coaches like Peter Hundermark – one thing did became obvious during the last years. The Product Owner MUST know what he wants and he must know when he wants it. He needs to be firm on his schedule. But – obvious as it is, he will need to accept what is reality. So when the team says something is possible or not, he will need to accept this. But – of course he does not need to like it. If he does not get the quality he wants. He has to react.