The following section provides more information on Roman and his background. For further details, please visit his LinkedIn profile.
How did you get into product management?
Like many people, I accidentally got into product management—I started my career as a software developer. In 2001, I worked at Siemens as an in-house consultant and helped its healthcare division create a new product. I was initially focused on the development process and technologies, but I ended up working with the lead product manager. I learnt a lot in the process, and it sparked my enthusiasm for product management.
What is your aspiration? What motivates you?
I’ve always wanted to help organisations make a positive impact on the users with their products. I’ve been especially interested in helping product people take full advantage of agile practices to maximise the value of their products and create a healthy, creative work environment. Hearing from my clients and students how my work has benefitted them is a huge motivation for me.
Additionally, my goal has been to help advance product management. When I first entered the profession, I experienced it as very old-school, waterfall-based, and inflexible. At one stage I even thought that it would have to be reinvented, at least for digital products. While this wasn’t necessary, fortunately, I believe that product management has significantly changed for the better over the last fifteen years. I am proud that I’ve contributed to this development with my work—with the frameworks and tools that I have created, the books and articles I have written, and the training courses and workshops I have offered.
Finally, I’ve always tried to offer simple, practical tools that can be successfully applied by busy product people in complex environments. Additionally, I’ve designed my practices so that can be used individually but at the same time support and reinforce each other when they are combined. This is especially visible in my product strategy model and my goal-setting framework.
What is your background in Agile and Scrum?
I started using agile practices in the late 1990s, and I’ve applied Scrum since 2004. I was taught and mentored by Ken Schwaber, one of the Scrum founders, and I became a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) in 2006. My first book, which was published in 2008, is about Scrum. My deep understanding of Agile has allowed me to show product people how they can apply agile practices to maximise the value of their products. That’s important, as agile concepts and techniques are often still not correctly understood, let alone applied.
Why do you focus on product strategy and product leadership?
When I started working in product management, I was initially focused on product discovery and delivery. However, I learnt that there is no point in worrying about the product features, writing user stories, and prioritising the product backlog if a sound product strategy and an actionable product roadmap are missing. Making the right strategic decisions is truly fundamental: product strategy must guide product discovery and delivery.
Being a successful product manager or Scrum product owner , however, does not only require the right hard skills—for example, the ability to interview users, create an effective product strategy, and apply the right KPIs. Products are developed, provided, and enhanced by people, and being able to effectively align and guide them is crucial to achieving product success. Additionally, the more senior a product role is, the more important leadership is. Strengthening leadership skills therefore helps people not only succeed in their current jobs but also progress in their careers.
What inspires you to write books?
I’ve always been interested in language—I have a degree in theoretical linguistics. But to be honest, I never aspired to be a book author. I was lucky enough to be asked by a publisher to write my first book in 2007, and I enjoyed the process. Looking back, I wrote the books that I would have liked to read. For example, I felt that many product people lacked practical guidance on product strategy and that there weren’t many books available that focused on strategy and roadmaps for digital products and agile teams. This led me to write my book Strategize. The same is true for my book How to Lead in Product Management. As mentioned above, I believe that leadership is a very important topic for product people. But I could not find a practical leadership book that focused on product management and helped product people develop their leadership skills.
From a personal perspective, I find writing helpful. It helps me reflect on my experience and consolidate my knowledge, I enjoy the creative process, and it nicely complements and enriches my teaching.
Where are you based?
I am based in Wendover, a village in Buckinghamshire, which is located in the south-east of the United Kingdom and not far away from London.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I enjoy cycling, riding my road and gravel bike in the Chilterns where I live (I ride a customised Giant TCR and Revolt). Cycling helps me get a fresh perspective on things, and I love being in nature. I also enjoy playing the tenor saxophone (a Yamaha 875 EX with a VI neck, a Jody Jazz HR* and a Selmer C** mouthpiece). In addition to Jazz (and bits of Funk and Blues) I like to play classical repertoire, especially Bach pieces. Finally, I co-lead family events at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery. I’ve greatly benefited from Buddhist teachings, and as someone who has three children, I love working with families and young people.