What to do if you are a Proxy PO and you don’t like it?

First of all, you should start with learning who is Proxy and why I think that the Proxy PO problem occurs only withing the Scrum framework, you should also check Ken Schwaber blog post to ensure that. I assume that you already know things described in the linked article.

What’s the case?

In 9 out of 10 cases people who read this article are Product Owners in some company and they feel that they are not empowered enough, so they are just Proxies. This is understandable.

If you are in such a case, you are probably aiming for something more than simple backlog management and writing user stories. You are willing to do some proper A/B Testing or some good Smoke tests. You would like to make decisions based on some metrics.

But you arn’t.

You have to somehow get out of this toxic situation, but how? There are three simple approaches.

Try to accept your role as a Proxy PO

Start with rethinking what you want. Do you really want to take all the responsibility of the Product Owner? Are you ready? Or maybe you like your current Proxy position? A the end of the day – you are not accountable for anything since you are just implementing somebody else will?

If you can accept your role in a company – there is no problem anymore. If you cant – move to next step.

Try to become a real Scrum Product Owner

I am not going to lie. Moving from Proxy product Owner to a real PO position is not an easy task. You might need 10 tips from Scrum forums on how to become a Product Owner. Use one of the following approaches or figure something on your own.

You should start with an honest talk with your boss. Explain what are your feelings, what is your goal and underline what do you want from your job. Hopefully, you will meet with respect and support and you will be able to together work out the situation.

If your boss is not the kind of guy who would help you with that – you can just take things in your hands. Start with taking one out of topics you are proxying and rework it. Gather data, ask clients and stakeholders and document everything. With such a strong background – make your own decision. It might differ from the thing you were told to do. Be prepared to defend your decision. It is a risky approach as it smells political for many. You might get fired for that, but you might also get what you wanted.

In either approach – if you success, you are on a good path. Otherwise thee is only one decision you can make.

Leave a company or you will be Proxy PO forever

There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you can’t accept it, change it. If you can’t change it, leave it.


It is a piece of tough advice but I believe at that point it’s the best I can give. If you can’t accept your situation in a firm and also can’t change it – you have to quit.

As simple as it is.

Leave a Comment