Get Rid of the Product Owner?

I was honored to be a participant on the Agile Expert Panel at Agile Philly’s monthly meeting at the Philly Emerging Tech Conference this past Thursday.  It was great fun, but I was surprised when Brian Marick announced that we need to get rid of the Product Owner role in Scrum.  Now I have great respect for Brian, so I wanted to know what could provoke Brian to say such a thing, so I asked him.  His response was one that sadly is not uncommon.  Brian stated that after months working with a product owner on a recent job, he finally went around this product owner to talk directly to the customer and oh!, what a difference.  The product owner had been acting as a buffer, liaison, filter, barrier (insert another synonym for “impediment” here) between Brian and the person who had the real answers to Brian’s questions.