SCRUM

Soo… what’s the difference between a Product Manager & a Product Owner?

The great divide that separates us all

Rameez Kakodker
7 min readFeb 20, 2022

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The PO PM divide that affects Development Team

Alright, so we’ve all been there. You’re offered a position as a Product Owner at a big organization and you, with your 3 years of product management experience feel confused. You ask, why are they downgrading me?

Am I product manager or a product owner, you ask yourself…

Some of us open our dusty copy of the Scrum guide and look up the roles & responsibilities of a PO & a PM in Scrum.

[Side note: Someone should print the guide and convert it to a massive book, with all variations and interpretations, just to do the theatrics of slamming of book on the table. Is there a version we can buy? I’d love to stick random post-its and dog-ear some of them to seem wise and insightful]

Jokes aside, this is a serious issue. In this wonderful article, Maarten Dalmijn writes about the how Scrum is disconnecting from the PM function and letting in snake oil salesmen like SAFe capitalize on that gap:

You should read that before reading this further as I reference it heavily.

However, note that I’ll argue that the disconnection from Product Management is intended as Scrum wants to play a different role.

In this article, I’ll try to answer the following questions:

  1. Who is a Product Owner? And how are they different from a Product Manager?
  2. Why does the Scrum guide fail to refer to the product management function? Are they that disconnected from reality?
  3. How can you tackle this divide in your organization and keep the SAFe peddling con-men at bay?

Let’s begin.

Who is a Product Owner?

As per the SCRUM guide:

The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the…

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Rameez Kakodker

100+ Articles on Product, Design & Tech | Top Writer in Design | Simplifying complexities at Majid Al Futtaim | mendicantbias.com