Five levels of ownership

21 August 2021

This is based on the talk ”Mistakes and Discoveries While Cultivating Ownership” by Aaron Blohowiak

What is ownership?

Ownership is a shared collection of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors:

  • Do you believe you own the destiny of your particular responsibility?
  • Do you have the freedom to do what is right right?
  • Are you proactive in understanding what needs to happen next?

Five levels of ownership

Growing ownership can be thought of as moving from one level to the next. These levels are scoped to responsibility, so moving up a level does not necessarily mean that everything that you are doing is at a particular level next level. Code reviews will always remain that the oversight level, new responsibilities might need to be at the demonstration level, and the highest level might be scoped to a module within a project.

  1. Demonstration

    1. Someone will do the thing, you are responsible for asking really good questions. Ask “why” not just “what”, the faster you extract information the better
  2. Oversight

    1. You will do it, but someone else will pre-approve it before it is done. Expect revisions before it is complete. Code reviews for example are always at the oversight level since someone will be reviewing it
  3. Observation

    1. You do it, and someone will potentially look after it is done to give high-level guidance
  4. Execution

    1. You have a direction and you are largely going and heads down doing it
  5. Vision

    1. Tell me what we should do