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Training Product Owners with Gamified Learning at Pentalog’s PO Camp

Vasile PUTINA
CTO Pentalog Software Factory & Agile Coach

Every year, we at Pentalog hold our Product Owner Camp, gathering and training Pentalog’s IT professionals to become effective Product Owners. This year, 36 professionals throughout the company joined our Product Owner training in Brasov, including Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Technical Consultants, Project Directors, Agile Coaches, Business Analysts, Auditors, and Marketing Specialists, more than last year, when our camp hosted 30 Pentaguys & Pentagirls at our Pentalog Iasi office.

The agenda of the event consisted of presentations and workshops on product strategy, Product Owner Camp’s main focus.

Product strategy is the foundation for the entire product lifecycle. People who develop and adjust product strategy are key individuals within any organization, driving digital innovation and helping their company reach the next level. Our product owner trainings are designed to make this happen.

We give actual & prospective Product Owners the skillset they need through practical, gamified experiences that help them learn faster. Since games usually help create a safe environment to practice, gamified learning and simulations provide powerful tools to motivate, engage and help learners retain training.

Product Owner Training with Game-Based Learning

To do this, we first asked ourselves how best to engage participants in a one-day training so that regardless of their experience level, they get a deep, actionable understanding of a subject in a short period of time. Corporate learning games are full of insights on how to do this, helping us build up significant skills we can use in our day-to-day jobs. Failing and trying again without negative repercussions is one truly valuable benefit of gamified trainings – not to mention how fun they are!

It might be counterintuitive, but playing games actually does improve training outcomes. According to a study by UC Denver Business School, participants in learning games ended up with 11% higher factual knowledge, 14% higher skill-based knowledge, and 9% higher retention rate than those who used other methods.

product owner training

Engaging all our colleagues and making the process fun for those enrolled in a one-weekend-day training was one of our PO Camp’s objectives.

The event was open to all Pentalog employees interested in becoming better Product Owners. At Pentalog, Product Owners have key roles in delivering excellence and adding value to customers and end users. Through the Product Owner Camp, our colleagues got to know each other better, shared information and had some fun along the way.

Learning Experience Made Practical

As the number of projects requiring skilled Product Owners increases, we have come to rely on a systemic approach to learning consisting of a large number of different types of trainings: employee 1-on-1 trainings, self-training, mentoring programs, community trainings, and so on. Pentalog’s Agile communities represent a safe environment for working and learning together, and their role is essential in starting learning groups for certification purposes, supporting ongoing projects, and discussing best practices.

The team managing Pentalog’s agile transformation for both the clients’ teams and our internal services is called Guepard and started in July 2014 as an educational program, almost at the same time as Pentalog’s Agile communities formed.

The Agile & Product Owner communities in Pentalog also help in clarifying the process an Agile software development team goes through and what the main players do.

product owner training - po camp

Meet our team! Pentalog relies on 70 Product Owners, keen Agile practitioners, who will help you craft an efficient product development strategy.

Our Product Owner camp has helped us to better understand ways a PO can achieve excellence and maximize delivered value by creating a tailored product strategy. Presentation topics included:

  • “Why would you pay a Product Owner?”

  • “How do you challenge teams and stakeholders with the right questions?”

  • “What should you consider when you define a strategy?”

  • “How can we define the product vision with canvases?”

The games we played during the Product Owner Camp made us work in collaborative teams to share knowledge, make decisions and compete against other teams. While group work is not always the best strategy, collaborating for a higher purpose, taking risks and offering help to other teams is almost always a better way to achieve one’s goals in business and development. We also were taught the effects of strategy and vision on the value of the product, and internalized adaptability and flexibility as necessary capabilities in our professional lives during this constant climate of change.

Both Product Owner Camp events in 2018 and 2019 received excellent reviews: we plan to become even more agile and respond better and sooner to our employees & clients’ needs by organizing more events like this one.

Here is what the attendees said about PO Camp 2019:

“From the point of view of a Scrum Master, the PO Camp was a nice opportunity to get a broader perspective on the Product Owner tasks and skills. This is useful to better understand what is expected from a PO in terms of collaboration with both the team and the stakeholders, but also to understand other points (like the vision, the ROI, interactions with marketing, interactions with UI/UX specialists) that can take up big chunks of a PO time. Knowing all of this we can have a more lenient view and approach in order to get the most value out of our daily interactions. It was a pleasure to meet other people involved with the same subjects as we are and get to experience their perspectives. This was constructive and we all learned a lot from each other.“ – Alin, Scrum Master

“I really enjoyed this PO camp, co-learning things with my colleagues from Brasov and from the other agencies. I liked the workshops, the atmosphere, the way it was organized and last but not least, the food.” – Teona, Scrum Master

“PO Camp 2019 represented a pleasant experience for me. Since I already participated at the last year’s PO Camp, my expectations were high, but I was not disappointed. From a junior Product Owner’s perspective, I think that the PO Camp helped me to better understand the role of a PO, the importance of teamwork and learn new insightful things about the product strategy. The camp was engaging and fun, we played games and we discussed on the subject, and the presentations delivered interesting content.” – Livia, Product Owner

“The PO Camp was a great event: we had fun and we benefited of engaging activities and interesting presentations. I appreciated the fact that we were given the opportunity to learn from, meet and bond with work colleagues from other offices. In the long run, our collaboration will be easier and more productive.” – Tudor, Product Owner

 


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