📬 The Backlog

📬 The Backlog is Thomas van Zuijlen's weekly newsletter on practical agility, with annotated articles on Scrum, facilitation, collaboration, and (product) development.

13 June 2022

📬 The Backlog #182

Where to begin when you and your colleagues are on a different wavelength, why it’s a terrible idea to ‘just’ put something onto a product backlog, and how to set (product) goals in five different ways.

  1. “Missing or misfired communication creates a situation where people who should be on a similar level aren’t” is how Michael Küsters describes ‘communication debt’. That sort of miscommunication can be especially problematic between The Business and The Developers, for instance, but it is just as difficult in other relationships where goals are at stake.

    In Get NEAR - Reduce Communication Debt, Küsters offers a simple acronym for the facets of your internal communication that you need to check whenever you suspect ‘communication debt’ is at play - as “the longer an organization exists without fixing their communication debt, the more misunderstanding about needs, expecations, assumptions and reasons exists - every day bringing people further apart.”

  2. Petula Guimaraes explains Why “Just put it in the backlog” is a terrible idea, and I can tell you without spoiling too much, that when we treat it as a generic container for stuff, we’re forgetting the PBL is a tool. Things you put on it, need a reason for being there, and if they’re there, they compete for order with the other items.

    So, discuss why it needs to be there with whomever is asking for the addition, before adding it, not after it’s there and you finally get round to refining it, weeks later. Then you’re just pushing the hot potato forward.

    As Guimaraes puts it: “Not dealing with the conversation when the request is made only postpones it. It still needs to be had, only later with more anxiety.”

  3. After speaking to a client about connecting their everyday tasks to their Why, I was looking for a few more examples of how to frame work items in terms of the goals they’re meant to achieve.

    And, well, I quickly found 5 Tools to Help Create Product Goals and Sprint Goals by Daria Bagina, which is as listicle-like as the title suggests, but also is a 5-for-5 collection with quick and clear examples of how to set a goal and turn it into a more robust thing with living things to ‘plug’ work items into. Nice one, also for the young PO in your life.

Have a cool week and Scrum on,
Thomas van Zuijlen

PS –

This week I’m appearing as the presenter of a new Hyarchis Connect on Wednesday 15 June, shot at Pakhuis de Zwijger; if you’re in or near the Accountancy business, you can still sign up for free to dive into the online event. See you Wednesday?

Last week I had a blast hosting the event Agile Day Kaunas in Lithuania, here’s a GIF of what I made the 100-or-so participants do. (Click through to a LinkedIn post for explanation.)

Hit me up if you want this kind of thing for your event, too!