Explore the Rock Crusher – the Village

The Village – Image from The Rock Crusher

The Village

It takes a village of roles to manage a backlog.

Classic backlog management is usually described as a collaboration between an omniscient, omnipotent product owner and a team. This model does not work for most organizations because the product owner role is so demanding that it’s too much for one person to do.

The Rock Crusher deconstructs the role of the classical product owner into its seven constituent roles. Roles are categorized as accountable, responsible, or supporting.

Accountable Roles

  • Backlog Owner. The backlog owner has the final say on sequencing and prioritizing work for a team, and is accountable for ensuring the team is always working on the most valuable rocks.
  • Solution Owner. The solution owner is a customer-facing role accountable for choosing (but not prioritizing) the rocks that make it into a solution.

Responsible Roles

  • Analyst. An analyst is responsible for transforming input from the other village members into a shared, clear understanding of precisely what to build: the solution.
  • Team. Team members are responsible for collaborating with all roles to decide precisely what to build. They are also accountable for delivering on their commitments to the backlog owner.

Supporting Roles

  • Customer. The customer receives or benefits from the solution and may be consulted or informed about decisions on precisely what to build. Customers may also be stakeholders.
  • Stakeholder. A stakeholder is anyone who at a minimum must be consulted about precisely what is being built, and who may have decision-making authority.
  • Subject Matter Expert (SME). An SME uses deep knowledge of the relevant problem domain, technology, or development practices to advise other roles on deciding precisely what to build and to provide expertise that other roles may need to perform their jobs.