Pieter Hens, PhD
Master Product Owner, Professor, Methodologist- and Process Nerd with a pragmatic twist.
Throughout my career, I have taken charge of numerous multi-team efforts across diverse projects and domains. From the get-go, I have served as the catalyst, initiating complex projects and products. My responsibility has been to bring structure to chaos and transform vague ideas into concrete software implementations.
I am passionate about sharing knowledge and helping other Product Owners in their journey of building outstanding digital products.
With a strong foundation in classical Requirements Engineering and extensive experience in implementing various Agile- and Product- practices,
I help you grow in becoming a better Product Owner!
Have you been in this situation too?
In the summer of 2014, I found myself in a Product Owner role at an Agile Development Agency, working for a client in Brussels. My job was to be the bridge between "the business" and "IT," a blend of Project Management and Business Analysis. I had to take requirements from the business, translate them into 'User Stories,' and feed these stories to the development team, ensuring they had enough tasks to work on. I was responsible for keeping tasks well-analyzed, the project within budget, and on time.
Now, this agency was brilliant when it came to Agile development. Their processes were spot on, and their development team churned out quality software with efficiency. From a development standpoint, this was fantastic, but from my perspective, it was incredibly frustrating.
One side of me had a development team asking for more scope, ready to tackle new tasks. On the flip side, I had "the business" struggling to provide clarity; many aspects needed further clarification. I found myself unable to feed the hungry team.
In my eagerness, I pulled harder, engaging in discussions with my business peers to gather something, anything to keep the team busy. The pressure to 'deliver' was immense, so "business" conjured up "something" on the spot, and we developed it without clear priorities. As you might expect, this approach didn't yield favorable results.
Each new feature request seemed unrelated to the others. It was just "something" to keep us occupied. The software we produced felt like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that didn't quite fit together. It was inconsistent and incomplete, and the big question loomed: "Who actually needed all these features?"
Worst of all, the dreaded question came: "When will it be done?" I had no way to provide an answer. There was no clear overview. Business wanted everything, but the development team was focused on low-hanging fruit, not necessarily what truly mattered. The software was built piece by piece, with no roadmap or vision for how the parts would fit together.
I probably do no need to mention that the incoherent pieces of software that were delivered ended up unused in the closet.
Since that project (over 15 years ago), I have gained a wealth of knowledge. I never wanted to find myself in that situation again.
Over time, I have developed expertise in "full" Product Ownership, encompassing its broadest scope. Product Ownership is not solely about managing "user stories" within a development team (although that aspect is still crucial!). It is also about creating exceptional outcomes for end users.
My passion is sharing this knowledge with others. Today I train and educate fellow Product Owners, guiding them to avoid the same mistakes I made and instead tackle the right challenges right from the beginning.
Agile and Lean adept
T-shaped: specialised in software development, with a working knowledge of sales & marketing, budget & resource planning and business strategy
Strong product- and enduser- focus
15+ years of experience in software- and digital product development
Workshop- and Gamestorming facilitator
Trainer, public speaker, coach
Learn the ins-and-outs of Digital Product Ownership: from strategy to discovery and actual development.
Theory and classroom exercises are one thing, but practical implementation is another. The first step: an expert coach by your side.
Require a project kick-off? Need to get alignment in your team? Want to build a first Shared Understanding? I've got your back!