Your browser does not support JavaScript! On Fighter Pilots and Product Owners - Scrum Inc
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The first Scrum Team was created in 1993 at the Easel Coporation in Massachusetts. Perhaps Jeff's most careful hire, and most thorough training, was the first Product Owner. He drew on his experience as a fighter pilot in Vietnam when thinking about the role of Product Owner. He knew the Scrum Team would work on a PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) which came out of Deming's and Shewhart's early work on quality control. But that was good for dealing with tactical issues, but the Product Owner would be working in a more uncertain world, constantly having to stay in touch with and react to the customer, the team, and the competitive landscape. The best way he had learned to deal with an uncertain environment was taught to him as how fighter pilots had to react in combat. John Boyd's OODA loop (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act). Boyd had designed it to help officers survive during combat and defeat the enemy. As he put it in his famous briefing "Organic Design for Command and Control" the key was to:

"Operate inside adversary’s observation‑orientation‑decision‑action loops to enmesh adversary in a world of uncertainty, doubt, mistrust, confusion, disorder, fear, panic chaos … and/or fold adversary back inside himself so that he cannot cope with events/efforts as they unfold."

That seemed like exactly the type of thinking a Product Owner should have. That's how Jeff trained the first one, and how he's training them now. Jeff is offering his Certified Scrum Product Owner course at the end of the month, and basing a lot of it on Boyd's thinking.

After all, Boyd was not only a legendary fighter pilot and military thinker, he had a pretty good insight into the shortcomings of the very idea of a "Command and Control" mindset.

"C&C represents a top‑down mentality applied in a rigid or mechanical (or electrical) way that ignores as well as stifles the implicit nature of human beings to deal. with uncertainty, change, and stress. (Examples: The Battle of the Somme, Evacuation of Saigon, Mayaguez Affair, Desert I, Nifty‑Nugget and Proud Spirit C&C exercises, etc.)."

That sounds like an argument a good Product Owner would make.

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