TL; DR: Value Creation in Scrum
As a tactical framework, Scrum is good at delivering Increments into customers’ hands. As we work in iterations, we probably do that several times per month, mitigating risk by closing feedback loops. Nevertheless, there is a potentially hazardous void in the framework that successful Scrum teams start plugging early: how to figure out what is worth building—product discovery—in the first place. As a result, value creation in Scrum is not as straightforward as you might have thought.
TL; DR: HoA #44: Honey, I Shrunk the Backlog w/ Allan Kelly
In this energizing 44th Hands-on Agile session on product backlog management, Allan Kelly clarified one thing: The backlog was a great idea until it wasn’t. Many successful teams deliver backlog items daily, but their backlogs aren’t getting smaller. The never-ending backlog overshadows delivery success. Product discovery, dual-track agile, OKRs, etc., make it worse by accelerating backlog growth without taking any of the rotting items away.
Learn more about Allan’s remedy for oversized product backlogs in less than an hour.
📺 Watch the video now: Allan Kelly: Honey, I Shrunk the Backlog — Hands-on Agile 44.
TL; DR: Product Backlog Principles
Contrary to popular belief, the Product Owner does not have dictatorial powers regarding the composition and order of the Product Backlog. Instead, Scrum as a framework is based on a delicate system of checks and balances, collaboration, and joint decision-making to mitigate risk; for example, the Product Owner falling in love with their solution over the problem of the customers. Learn more about critical Product Backlog principles, from the size and growth of the Product Backlog to whether a Product Backlog is necessary in the first place. (Some lean practitioners dispute its existence is justified.)
TL; DR: Product Backlog Refinement First Principles
The Product Backlog refinement is a continuous process to create actionable Product Backlogs, enabling a Scrum Team to run Sprint Plannings at a moment’s notice. Consequently, refinement is about creating alignment among all team members about the Why, the What, the How, and probably even the Who regarding the upcoming work for the Scrum team’s Product Goal. As a result, Product Backlog refinement is a critical success factor as it drastically increases the team’s capability to deliver valuable Increments regularly.
The following 14 first principles describe in broad strokes the foundation of a successful approach to refinement.
TL; DR: 27 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns
Scrum is a tactical framework to build products, provided you identify what is worth making in advance. But even after a successful product discovery phase, you may struggle to create the right thing in the right way if your Product Backlog is not up to the job—garbage in, garbage out. The following article points to 27 common Product Backlog anti-patterns – including the Product Backlog refinement process – limiting your Scrum team’s success.
TL; DR: The Oversized Product Backlog Problem — When Noise Interferes with Signal
There are plenty of failure possibilities with Scrum. Given that Scrum is a framework with a reasonable yet short “manual,” this effect should not surprise anyone. Neglecting the critical Scrum artifact for continuous value creation is one of the common Scrum anti-patterns. If your Scrum Team strives to make your customers’ lives easier Sprint after Sprint, beware of the oversized Product Backlog.
📺 Join me and explore the consequences of inadequate Product Backlog management in less than three minutes.
Update: I am running a poll on LinkedIn—join the voting: “What reasons have you observed why Scrum Teams stuff their Product Backlogs — a very costly pattern that diminishes ROI and value creation?”