Jeff and Chad start the podcast by describing the key differences between a frantic and stressful backlog vs a strategic and focused one. In this segment, Jeff and Chad describe their observations of product backlogs in many of the clients they work with, noting that the backlogs tend to be task-based and the Product Owners try to please everyone.
They emphasize that saying “yes” to something in the backlog means saying “no” to something else, and they suggest that focusing on outcomes and impacts and thinking about options can help prioritize backlog items.
They caution against task-based backlogs leading to a project management pattern for the Product Owner and suggest that helping the team get clarity while focusing on setting goals can be more effective.
They introduce the idea of “strategic distance”, i.e. how far from strategy is a certain backlog item. They determine that distance by asking the “why” question for any item on the backlog, and they give an example of how it might take many “why” questions to get to the essence of a backlog item.
They suggest zooming out and capturing more of the what and the why for backlog items and caution against using the backlog as a “catch-all” in an anti-pattern.
Creating Strategic and Focused Backlogs with Impact/Outcome Statements
In this episode, Bram shares the story of a workshop where people participated and found that they liked it, but soon after, started to find reasons not to apply what they were excited about during the workshop. The team felt they were not allowed to make decisions, and the manager was not trusting that the team was capable. Bram highlights the common anti-pattern of a manager projecting fear onto the team and how to help the manager and team overcome that anti-pattern. He suggests considering what the worst case scenario is and to focus on celebrating successes instead. Bram also highlights that often, teams don’t feel they are allowed to experiment, and how he helps teams experiment and learn from their failures. We also talk about how to encourage managers to let teams work on safe-to-fail experiments, as they can help the team learn and grow. The episode aims to help managers and teams to overcome the fear of failure and to be more open to experimentation and learning.
Featured Book of the Week: Getting Things Done by David Allen
Bram recommends ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen, the ultimate productivity guide for anyone looking to streamline their workflow and achieve more. This book is a comprehensive guide that covers a lot of techniques to capture what is on your mind, what you need to do and get all those things out of your mind and into a system. The book offers strategies for getting calmer, being more effective and letting go of things that are holding you back. It emphasizes the importance of starting with a system and how to create one that works for you. This book will help you to achieve your goals and work smarter, not harder. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to be more productive and organized.
Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today!The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!
About Bram De Block
Bram is not an official trainer, consultant nor freelancer. He is just himself, supporting colleagues in applying and growing their own potential and getting stuff done. Bram started as a software developer for 10 years, then grew into a half-time agile coach, and finally, full-time “Global Agile Lead” at Skyline Communications. Something “special” he learned (even if he wishes it wasn’t special): the meaning and impact of “respect”.
Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook).
Jeff and János share the story of a DevOps transformation at Meltwater, where they both work. We start by discussing the big differences between an Agile and a DevOps transformation.
The big difference between Agile and DevOps transformations
As they describe it, a DevOps transformation is more about the technical aspects of software development. While in an Agile transformation we may look at processes, and team composition, the DevOps transformation that Jeff and János describe was focused on removing the hand-overs, and building the technical infrastructure necessary for that to happen. Their goal was to create, and support cross functional teams that would be able to implement, deploy and operate their software in production.
There’s many insights to be had from looking at how Startups and Lean Product businesses develop software and bring products to the market. In this BONUS episode with Ash Maurya, we learn about Lean Product Development from the author of Running Lean, one of the first published books around Lead Product Development.