The Backlog is a biweekly newsletter about the undervalued and overlooked in modern product development. It covers product development, self organization, and productivity. I include methods, books, and write about my own experience. Subscribe to get new posts straight to your inbox.

Sprinting to success with Scrum: how to make sure it is done effectively

In its essence, agile product development is a mindset for dealing with an uncertain environment. The best way to do that is to find the path forward one step at a time. This means delivering frequently, observing how users react and interact with the product, and adjusting the approach for the next iteration according to the feedback and observations. Scrum is the manifestation of exactly this approach within a project management method.
A picture of the word Change, symbolizing that a retrospective means changing how we work.

The sprint retrospective – why is it needed and what are best practices?

Along with the refinement, I find the sprint retrospective to be the most important ceremony within the Scrum Framework. It embodies one of the main features of agile product development, iterative improvements. This is, in my view, at the heart of agile product development. Iteratively improving not only applies to the product itself but also to the developmental process, the method of collaboration, and used frameworks.

Three essential reasons for creating a compelling product vision

A product vision is of paramount importance. This seems to be a given. You can find a lot of material that simply states this as fact without explaining why this is the case. Many write about what a vision is and plenty of folks provide frameworks or methods for creating a product vision. However, rarely do they explain why the product vision is needed, what the reasons are for creating one. It seems to simply be assumed that everybody already knows. Why is it so important?
The Golden Circle

Start with Why – 3 takeaways in applying this powerful concept

All companies know their What. It is what they are offering, the services and products they are selling. Some companies know their How. It is how they are building and offering their products and services, their values, their culture. The how is often also called Unique Value Proposition (USP). Only the rarest of companies are able to actually say Why they are doing what they are doing, what the real motivation is, what their purpose is 

What is agile development? 4 principles that lead to success

Agile is not Scrum, Lean, Kanban, DevOps, Extreme Programming, or any other agile method used in modern product development. Don´t get me wrong, all of these frameworks have a reason for being. I am working as a Scrum Product Owner (PO). We are successful and I thoroughly enjoy using this method. Scrum is one way (of many) to manifest and formalize agile principles. It is not equal to Agile. Agile development is a mindset centered on principles.

Does a Product owner need technical skills?

I recently wrote about the core competencies of a Product Owner (PO). Within that text I didn´t address technical skills. This topic is large enough to warrant a dedicated post. Well, here it is. Does a Product Owner (PO) need deep technical understanding to be successful? In my view, the short answer is a clear NO for the vast majority of products. The long answer is a bit more nuanced: it depends. Overall, I do believe that technical understanding for a PO is a net positive. However, it can also lead to some negative outcomes. I will dive into the pros and cons first before addressing some general points.

Deep work: a powerful concept – five takeaways from an inspiring book

have read a few books that had a significant impact on my professional (and personal) life, maybe none more so than “Getting Things Done” by David Allen and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people” by Stephen Covey. However, a few months ago, I discovered the work of Cal Newport and read his book “Deep Work”. Its impact on my thinking was and is on par with the classics listed above.