Little ‘P’ Product Owner

Jeremy Wight

VP of Engineering at CareMessage



There will be times when engineers on the team do not understand how much ownership they have and should take over the products which they work on . Although the success of the product is everyone's obligation, it can be difficult to rally individuals around the importance of taking ownership of more than just the code that they directly deliver. To counter this I have found an approach that frames ownership in a way that helps the product as well as helping the engineer grow in their career.

Actions taken

What has worked for me in the past, and what I still do today, is I have engineers picture themselves as the little 'P' product owner. The big 'P' product owner remains the product manager, but I ask individuals to think of themselves as next in the chain of command. Why? Because they are the ones building the product and ultimately it is their product. I want them to think about it as if it were theirs and if they were in charge of owning the decisions. Encouraging engineers to be in an ownership mindset promotes them to think about user experience, latency, occurrences with retries, and all those sort of higher level questions. It doesn't mean that everything they come up with and want to do will get done, but I still want them to think that way and bring those ideas to the table. Fundamentally, it is how we want everybody to be thinking about our products.

Lessons learned

Encouraging ownership and articulating that in meaningful ways helps people to grasp it more personally. Engineers feel more secure about bringing up ideas, tend to work harder, and spend the extra time fixing items because the product is thought of as theirs.

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Jeremy Wight

VP of Engineering at CareMessage

Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementTechnical ExpertiseTechnical SkillsProgramming

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