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Thanks for taking the time to read our weekly newsletter to help you get Unstuck! Check us out every week for your dose of agile inspiration. We’re striving to keep the content in our 4 Qs brief and powerful so you can get a lot of impact from a little reading!

We’re doing a series on Marty Cagan’s new book - “Transformed”. If you’d like to see the other parts of the series, check it out:

Part 1 - Empower Teams with Problems to Solve

Part 2 - Focus on What You Solve for Customers, not Features

Quintessential Thought

Principle 3: Increase Ownership

Cagan argues that teams need ownership in order to fully unlock business results. But ownership is a tricky word. What does it mean and how do we enable it? It’s one of those things that you know it when you see it. Some statements you might see with varying levels of ownership in teams:

Low Ownership:

  • “Someone else will take care of it”

  • “I’m just doing what the requirements say”

  • “I’m not sure if this will help, but it’s what the client asked for”

  • “I don’t know why it’s not working”

High Ownership:

  • “Will this come back to bite us later?”

  • “I thought of a new way to solve this problem”

  • “Will this help us achieve our goals?”

  • “I made the mistake that caused that bug”

To make the transition from low ownership to high ownership, there are several things we can do:

  • Increase autonomy - sounds counterintuitive, but if people have autonomy within clear boundaries, for a purpose, it helps unlock creativity and ownership.

  • Focus on Products over Projects - keep people together in the long run so they can see the results (positive and negative) of their actions.

  • Drink your own champagne - have the team building also be the ones supporting (you’d be amazed how much this helps reduce support issues)

  • Have a clear vision and purpose

All of these things will help enable better results, more creativity, and overall success for your team, product, and organization.


When a team takes ownership of its problems, the problem gets solved. It is true on the battlefield, it is true in business, and it is true in life. - Jocko Willink

Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization - staff, players, coaches, management, and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops, and teams can grow and succeed together. - Jerry Reinsdorf

Taking complete ownership of your outcomes by holding no one but yourself responsible for them is the most powerful thing you can do to drive your success. - Gary W. Keller

Quick Step

Pick one of the actions from above. Spend 30 minutes putting it into practice this week.


Where has low ownership cost you in the past? How has high ownership helped?

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