Blog

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.

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.

Definition of Ready & Definition of Done – so simple and so powerful

Whenever I start working with a new team, one of the first things we do is defining the Definition of Ready as well as the Definition of Done. Defining and using those two artifacts is not overly complicated but saves all involved from a lot of stress down the road. Nevertheless, I frequently find teams that use neither or don't even know what they are. Thus, I think it makes sense to address what Definition of Done (DOD) and Definition of Ready (DOR) are and why they exist.

Our unreasonable hope that software tools will magically save us

Don´t get me wrong, many software tools are fantastic products. I use a wide variety daily. However, I feel like their impact is overvalued. Or maybe, to put it better, I think they are misused. Far too often is some new license for a tool purchased because “we are not meeting our targets”. The hope is then that the tool magically solves everything. Spoiler alert: It doesn't.
Visualization of a user story

The easy way to write the best user stories

Writing a user story is not rocket science. Nevertheless, it is a point of significant leverage for the success of product development. As such, I feel that the task is undervalued. Thus, this post describes how to write user stories.

The four core competencies of an effective product owner

The Product Owner (PO) is an extremely important role that includes a diverse set of responsibilities and an empowered PO can have a tremendous impact on product development, if he or she is able to handle the many jobs of a PO. This raises the question of what skills are needed to do just that. Thus, in this third installment of the series on the PO I will focus on answering the question What are the core competencies of a Product Owner?

The effects of remote work on company culture

Now that the intense part of the corona pandemic is over (fingers crossed), companies and teams are transitioning to a permanent new normal, and figuring out how to do so. Thus, now is a good time to write down some thoughts on how to deal with the effects of remote work, specifically on company culture.