Michel
van der
Meulen

Christmas Wish List

The days are getting shorter and colder. Summer is over and winter is coming. Some people are already thinking about the holidays and the preparations for it. Soon children will have their Christmas wish list ready. The wish lists my children created were always a combination of text and pictures; every item on the list contained a name, a picture, information where to buy it and how much it costs. They did everything to increase the chance of getting these presents and especially getting the right presents. Beside the list they told us all about these presents and explained what is was, what they would do with it and why they wanted it so badly. But also what they would do if they did not get the present. And if they had to choose, which present would they prefer most. They gave us all the information and asked us if we also could explain it to Santa Claus.

So the wish lists did not contain all detailed information about the presents, but just enough for us to remember the details of the conversations with out children, so that we could help Santa Claus as good as possible. And important information which was not on the lists, but we might forget, we wrote that down in a small secret notebook.

In Scrum we also have some kind of wish list, we call it the Product Backlog. It contains all the wishes, Product Backlog items, and the most important ones are placed on top of the list. One of the most common mistakes is that people think that Product Backlog items contains all the information needed to realize the wishes. But that is not true, Product Backlog items are just reminders of the conversations.
Another common mistake is (especially when tools like Jira are used) that the Product Backlog items contain too much information. Every detail is written down and the Product Backlog items look more like pieces of a detailed design, instead of a reminders.

As a parent I know for a long time that our children teach us more than we can imagine, also in this area. Like on the Christmas wish list the Product Backlog items is a list of reminders. All other information needed by the Development Team can be transferred verbally, in a face to face conversation. The Development Team is a self-organizing team and they are responsible to get all the information needed to change the Product Backlog item into a releasable piece of software. That is why refinements are so important, to get the right information by talking about the requirements.

So, do not underestimate to power of face to face conversations and do not overestimate written transfer of information. This way you avoid a lot of disappointments with the Product Owner, the Stakeholders and also with your children.

If you want to learn more about the Product Backlog (or how you can teach your children how to make a good Christmas Wish List), then register for one of the Scrum trainings I provide via https://www.scrum.org/classes?uid=268064

Happy Holidays

  
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