Product Owner Certification: An Interview with Sanjiv Augustine on Agile, Lean, and Scrum


In this interview, Agile Leadership Network cofounder Sanjiv Augustine discusses his upcoming product owner certification class at the Mobile Dev + Test Conference. He talks about who should go, detailing how he'll be incorporating agile, lean, and Scrum into the lecture.

Josiah Renaudin: Today I am joined by Sanjiv Augustine, cofounder of the Agile Leadership Network and a speaker at our upcoming Mobile Dev + Test Conference. Sanjiv, thank you very much for speaking with us today.

Sanjiv Augustine: You're very welcome, Josiah, glad to join you today.

Josiah Renaudin: No problem at all. First, could you tell us just a bit about your experience in the industry?

Sanjiv Augustine: Sure thing. So, I have been in the industry for quite some time, over two decades, and about half of the time has been working in the space of lean; lean process improvement, lean six sigma, and more recently, lean start-up, and a little over half of that time has been working with agile methods. About fifteen years ago, I was one of the early adopters of agile methods, and since then have become a champion and evangelist for agile.

Josiah Renaudin: Now, you have a two-day product owner certification class at our upcoming Mobile Dev + Test event. Can you briefly talk about what it covers? Why did you choose to develop this specific class?

Sanjiv Augustine: That is a great question. As you might know, there are two major certifications in Scrum, which is the leading agile methodology. One of those that has been around for a lot longer is called a certified ScrumMaster, and that is a little more straight-forward. That has to do with team dynamics and learning how to lead these high performance agile teams.

There is this other newer certification, which is called a certified Scrum product owner, and this one is a lot more interesting, because it sits at the junction between delivery and discovery. What we call discovery or more specifically, at the junction between agile delivery that is, teams delivering products using agile methods and other so-called product owner teams working with users and customers to discover and progressively elaborate a product.

So, this particular class is one that pulls those two disciplines together, where we talk about product owners, which is a role in Scrum that works with customers, becomes kind of the single channel to define a product, prioritize the requirements of the product, and then work with the delivery teams to develop the product.

Josiah Renaudin: And who do you suggest should actually go to this class? Is it for beginners or do you have more information for seasoned members of the industry?

Sanjiv Augustine: Well, seasoned members of the industry, beginners, anybody in between, all of these are good. What I would recommend, though, is that folks who have some prior experience of agile would probably get the most of the class. If they do not, then they should probably contact me before the class and I can give them some pre-reads and such, it will just help the class go faster, but in terms of experience, anybody who is in product development, who is in product delivery, project delivery, application development, all of these folks should be able to benefit from the class.

Josiah Renaudin: Can you talk about some of the different barriers that hold people back from development success?

Sanjiv Augustine: All right. That's a big one (laughs). Can we narrow it down a little bit?

Josiah Renaudin: Just maybe one or two that really stick out that you'll be discussing during this class.

Sanjiv Augustine: All right, so that narrows it down quite a bit. So, one of the things that helps Scrum get a lot of proponents and adopters, if you will, when we first started getting traction about a decade and a half ago was the fact that Scrum asked for a single person to be the conduit of business requirements between a typical business side, if you will, and a technical side, and no delivery method that I know of, at least, before that had specifically called for somebody from the business to be that conduit, right?

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