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The Product Backlog is NOT Maintained Exclusively by the Product Owner by Christiaan Verwijs

· scrum

📘 What does the Scrum Guide say?

🗣️ QUOTE: “The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog, including its content, availability, and ordering.”

You can read this line as reinforcing the idea the Product Owner should also do all these things.

But the Scrum Guide then says it sis “an ongoing process in which the Product Owner and the Developers collaborate on the details of Product Backlog items”.

The keyword here is “responsible”.

Can a Product Owner maximize the value of work done by the Scrum Team if they are not involved in what goes on the Product Backlog?

🕵️‍ Common Causes

1️⃣ Some POs with a business background feel it's their duty to solely manage the backlog, letting developers to exclusively focus on coding.

2️⃣ Misinterpreting Scrum as a rigid methodology leads to traditional role definitions, missing the framework's purpose and the collaborative essence.

↩️ Back to the essentials of Scrum

Scrum Framework exists to decrease the risks inherent to product development.

Because of this, we need close collaboration between professional.

🗣️ QUOTE: “In complex work, hierarchy only gets in the way of the creativity, motivation, and intelligence of teams.”

From this perspective, it makes no sense to treat the Product Owner as the only person who can create items for the Product Backlog and order them.

Product Owners and Developers collaborate to optimize the Product Backlog, jointly creating and prioritizing items for maximum value.

Scrum Masters, in turn, should help both the Product Owner and the Developers in doing so.

It is perfectly fine for Developers to put items on the Product Backlog or re-order them; but ultimately, the Product Owner remains responsible.

💁‍ Tips

⚒️ Organize Product Discovery Workshops:

- Invite the entire Scrum Team.

- Opt-in participation for effectiveness.

💻 Digital Tool Practices (e.g., JIRA):

- Minimize restrictions on changing the Product Backlog.

- Include Developers, not just the Product Owner.

- Establish work agreements for Developer autonomy.

- Define communication levels with the Product Owner.

🦮 Scrum Master Guidance:

- Emphasize Scrum as a risk-reducing framework.

- Avoid dogmatic explanations; focus on purpose over rules.

#scrum #productBacklog #maintenance #developer