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24 July 2014

Thinking about Product Backlogs

What do people think about Product Backlogs? What are the opportunities here to do better?

Last night we ran a workshop at a meetup group and as I was cleaning up this morning I decided to grab some of the notes people left and capture some of the ideas in a post here.


We used the lens of the Six Thinking Hats to guide and analysis and discussion of various aspects of scrum. Here I am going to capture each of the thinking lenses and the notes made by the team who played the activity.  I am interested in your thoughts as well. Please let me know what you think about Backlogs in the comments below.

Blue Hat
What is the thing we want to investigate and how do we want to work together?
  • Items in the backlog are interdependent
  • It is hard to break down stories into smaller ones - it is unrealistic
  • How big is the backlog?
  • Not verified or checked
  • Less Time
  • Not enough info on backlog cards
  • Not in priority order
  • Stories get older or out of scope with time
  • Often pile up endlessly
White Hat
What are the facts? What do we know and not know? What do we need to get more information?
  • New stories are added to backlogs
  • Sprint Backlog comes from the Product Backlog
  • Devs pick stories from the Backlog
  • PO Maps story from Backlog to Devs
  • PO adds story to the backlog
  • Backlog contains Epics and Stories
Black Hat
Uh oh. What could go wrong. Where is the danger here?
  • The backlog is just HUUUUUUGE
  • Backlog grows with time
  • Priority changes
  • Ongoing new triage issues coming up
  • Grooming often missed
  • Showstopper or production bugs
  • All backlog items not getting discusses in one meeting
  • Someone quits in a team
  • Backlog is not consolidated at one place
  • Duplication of issues
  • Difficult to prioritise huge backlog within time
  • Backlog tool is slow
Green Hat
Challenging and provoking the status quo
  • Review backlogs after every sprint
  • Pick fixed number of stories every sprint
  • Group items in the backlog
  • Visualize the backlog- burndown chart
  • Groom the backlog
  • More discussion on priority/prioritization
Yellow Hat
Let's be optimistic
  • Everyone agrees to use same tool to consolidate
  • Motivation is high
  • No timezone/geographic differences
  • Awesome PO and engaged team
  • Grooming sessions done regularly
  • Requirements are freezed (sic)
  • No bugs in new development
Red Hat
How do I feel? Aka emotional response
  • Epic stories need lots of time to complete
  • Many stories can't be completed in time
  • All stories are epics
  • PO will just keep adding stories
  • Let's do it