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Product Backlog - is an emergent list of what might be needed in the product ...#29

There is a subtle change that I would like to see in the Scrum Guide. The word requirement to describe the Product Backlog has been removed. However there is still one part in the Scrum Guide that makes the team think the Product Backlog is a fixed requirement.

I would like this part in the Product Backlog section

The Product Backlog is an emergent, ordered list of what is needed to improve the product.

to be changed to:

The Product Backlog is an emergent, ordered list of what might be needed to improve the product.

If the items in the Product Backlog are emergent, I think what is needed to improve the product is unclear even before the development start. By changing this part, it should encourage the Scrum team to

  1. Evaluate if what they have in the Product Backlog is still needed;
  2. If it is no longer needed then it should be removed from the Product Backlog;
  3. And also not to overthink or overly detailed all of the Product Backlog items upfront;
5 months ago
1

I get the intention, and I agree with that but I am unsure whether this would be the solution.

I interpret, only add what is needed to not make it a christmas wishlist.

If it is not needed, remove it.

I do agree with intent. But for me now it could be interpreted as add anything you can think off to the PBL and you might envision yourself working on.

5 months ago

I have only seen a few Scrum teams who has a habit of continuously refreshing & removing items from the Product Backlog. The majority only adds but never remove :D

5 months ago

@Joshua Partogi: like I said, I agree with the problem. Could that be conveyed with a differrent change? Adding everything we might work on and not removing, would make it worse.

Imo, this might not be happening due to wording but due to loss aversion (let’s not remove) and our predilection to add things to make something better.

5 months ago
1

I agree with Maarten. I am afraid if you change it to what might be needed then it will turn into a wishlist.
I like the current wording in the SG, because it forces you to delete items, that no longer is needed for the product and create them again later if they are needed.

5 months ago
2

Either change that part by having might or explicitly mention that the team should also remove items that are no longer relevant. But the latter makes it sound prescriptive.

what is needed implies certainty or a fixed situation - in some cultures. I actually would like the team to view the Product Backlog as options. Because it’s options, we don’t have to work on everything in the Product Backlog or remove the items that are no longer relevant.

5 months ago
1

I really like this change @Joshua Partogi. Maybe we could mention that the Product Backlog shouldn’t be too long / is typically limited? In Lean excess products and materials not being processed are considered waste.

5 months ago
1

Yeah mentioning the PB shouldn’t be too long is a good idea … but how long is too long?
Another option would be to mention in Scrum Guide that the Scrum team should continuously review and remove irrelevant items. Adding a bullet point in Sprint Review section would probably make sense.
I think now the only indicator to remove items in the PB is when the Product Goal is abandoned … but it’s not so obvious in some teams.

5 months ago

What if you dont work with Products?

Do you really need to define the backlog as only containing product related items?

The backlog is Agile is a mix of ideas, thoughts and actual hypothesis to try out. This is why so many things get stuck for a very long time.

The solution would be to divide the actual work from ideas somehow.

5 months ago