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.