26 June 20215 min read

What Does Product Ownership Mean For Us? | Handbook Part 3

Christina Lange & Mark Lambertz
Written by

Christina Lange & Mark LambertzMETRO.Digital

METRO Digital Handbook
We have many different types of team. In this example, we would like to illustrate how ownership in a successful product team works. A high-quality product experience is created by the product team that makes this possible. They translate strategy into a successful product, learn from data, and continually work to improve the customer’s experience. Since we are working in a network organization, every role is connected to a different manager. This is why it is essential that that the responsibilities are clearly coordinated. We experience the power of self-organization in a product team combined with clearly defined roles:
METRO Digital Product Manager

Product Manager

  • Represents the business, customers and clients
  • Evolves the product vision & road map
  • Collaborates with all parts of Team and tries to drive business value
  • Communicates with customer, clients, partners, stakeholders, and colleagues
  • Generates insights by using Metrics & KPIs
  • Takes care of the value in the backlog

METRO Digital Tech Lead

Tech Lead

  • Ensures that technical issues that are addressed to the right people.
  • Good business understanding and communication skills
  • Represents a node within the business that connects teams

METRO Digital Engineer


  • Mainly is responsible for delivery / developing user stories
  • Builds a good understanding of the customer
  • Challenges PO and business, to deliver the best result
  • Thinks out of the box on how things can be implemented and shares ideas
  • Takes ownership and initiative in solving issues working towards completion

METRO Digital Agile Master

Agile Master

  • Helps the team improve constantly
  • Spreads the spirit of continuous improvement
  • Focuses on the whole team’s performance (e.g., velocity, quality, fail safe environment)
  • Facilitates ceremonies

METRO Digital Data Scientist

Data Scientist

  • Enables the team to collect and analyse their data efficiently
  • Enables the team to be truly data oriented and to have access to anything related to their product

METRO Digital UX Professional

UX Professional

  • Ensures that the product has the best possible user experience
  • Asks question about desirability of the product
  • Gains user insights, over designing prototypes and detailed UI design to collecting user feedback

We have another 10 roles in our organization, like consultant, domain owner, domain expert or service manager. Together we are driving the business for METRO.digital. Our lean role-based model ensures flat hierarchies, clarity about ownership, as well as personal development possibilities.
METRO Digital Handbook

What does self-organization mean to us?

We believe in the power of self-organization and in the results teams can achieve through it. However, it is important to us that self-organization goes hand in hand with accountability. Our teams and organizational units succeed by:

  • Committing to the overall strategy
  • Taking ownership: Being committed to value-driven targets /objectives of the organization
  • Creating a set of ways of working relevant to the team, including rules and tenets to achieve a common goal
  • Addressing the team and individual shortcoming openly and respectfully
  • Aligning and agreeing on a set of rules for breaches of team rules

And if it doesn't work as expected?

A functioning, self-organized team is characterized by how it deals with difficult situations. How does it demand the responsibility of everyone? How do the team members give each other feedback? How does a team manage to deal with defeats and draw strength from them? Experienced coaches support the product teams. Radical Candor is so extremely important for us! As stated in our core value Respect: We respect every individual and aim for an environment where everyone feels safe to ask questions, share ideas, raise concerns and admit mistakes so that we can learn and improve.

Five factors have been defined to determine whether a team is self-organized in a productive way:

  • The team delivers value incrementally every four weeks or less. As an organization with a long history, it is already a good improvement, to reduce the lead time to add value to a product incrementally. The same logic applies to other teams, irrespective of their role or function. While product teams work in iterations, the aforementioned colleagues have to deliver value on a daily basis.
  • The team delivers what the customer/ clients need most (e.g., product/ service discovery, product research, innovation methods, metrics).This criterium should handle the aspect of customer centricity and implies that a product team must communicate with the stakeholders and receive feedback that helps to improve the team’s product/service. Data plays a crucial role in this context to collect important DevOps measures like “Change Failure Rate” or “Deployment Frequency”. Of course, metrics are not limited to technical aspects, therefore business-related metrics are also very important to us.
  • The team tests and validates their work in the best possible way (e.g. definition of ready & done, acceptance criteria, automated tests). Since we want to enable the team to deliver quality, it is necessary to deal with continuous validation activities. This means anything that raises the quality is welcome – and the actions depend on the specific situation of a team and its individual challenges.
  • The team is self-organized and cross-functional (e.g. responsibility, decision taking, vision, mission, manage conflicts). This point touches the wide area of issues that are related to team autonomy. At the end of the day, it is about taking ownership and deal with the inherent pair of responsibility and liberty. As one might imagine, this is about the social aspects of working in an agile manner.
  • The team improves continuously. (e.g. Retro, process, way of working, feedback) To improve means to learn how to do things differently. In a complex world this means to conduct experiments and think like a scientist. Learning is therefore an essential part of an agile team. Again, we welcome any kind of activity that supports the generation of actionable insight, regardless of whether it is related to the team and its daily work or further development of skills. This is so to say a deeply humanistic idea, because we see humans as beings which can grow – on a personal and professional level.

METRO Digital Handbook

Uncovering the blind spots

Nobody is perfect. This is an easy saying, but it is difficult for us to accept, especially when it comes to our professional life. Especially when it comes to our blind spots, whether it is something amazing or a behavior we could improve. Feedback is our tool to help each other to become better. It keeps us and our teams on track, helps us avoid major mistakes and leverages the potential of our teamwork. At METRO.digital we want to grow together, and feedback helps us to do so.

Care personally and challenge directly

Giving and receiving feedback is not just the manager’s job. At METRO.digital, we expect everyone to evolve their personal leadership skills by giving and receiving constructive feedback on a regular basis. Therefore, we use radial candor as a frame. We follow the principle of "care personally and challenge directly". A structure called S - B - I (Specific Situation - Behavior - Impact) makes it easier to give feedback immediately. Example: "In this situation I perceived this behavior which had this impact on me. For me, it would have been better if you had behaved like that, then we could have solved this issue better together." But feedback is of course more than simply an " indicator for change". It gives us the opportunity to empower us via positive feedback. It is simple – let’s develop this habit together

Forming a feedback culture

Aside from the points mentioned above, we create the environment of a modern feedback culture through:

  • Monthly employee engagement survey
  • 360 degree feedback and growth plans
  • Regular feedback in 1:1 with managers and peers

Ways of workingProduct