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15. Backlog blindness
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August 15, 2022 / 3 minute read

Starting fresh at Xata (itself also fresh) has been a splash of ice water. The way the team operates today is beautiful.

In the stage we’re at, we don’t have an ancient list of feature requests. It means the our “todo list” is tidy, understandable. It’s not an endless treadmill, designed to keep a team busy forever. It’s easy to get a feeling for the next step the product is taking.

During the course of normal work, much of the team will take time to listen. Listen in to customers, to chatter on Slack, to what’s felt hard, or what’s received some frowns during all-hands. These are bought up and get attention. The focus is on what’s important for users and for those helping our users, rather than striking the maximum number of items off of a backlog.

It’s silly to say, but listening and thinking is pretty good. We all agree on this. But is your team doing it? You have a group of people who are all working on the product, they’re dogfooding it daily, and understand weird corners of it like nobody else. Their job is (hopefully) not just to translate half-baked PRDs into code. If everyone understands, listens, and adapts; your product will be better.

My recommendation is to keep the backlog at human-scale. Don’t worry about logging every idea that’s ever requested. If things are important, they’ll come back up in more conversations.

Give your valuable attention about the stuff that matters for the stage you’re in right now.