As product managers, we aren’t just filling the backlog with stories and assigning them to the product team.

We aren’t just saying what the priorities are, and answering questions about what this story is all about.

Because if that’s what we’re mostly doing, the product team may start to question what these stories are all about. Asking why stories need to exist. And wondering why they matter.

Without good answers to those questions, we’re in danger of becoming a feature factory. Where all we’re doing is passing the next story down the line – and missing the wider context behind it.

This is also a good way to lose momentum, as the product team doesn’t have a reason to care about what they’re doing.

We need to give them a reason to care.

First, we need to lay out the product vision.

Who do we want to affect with what we do?
Where are they today?
Why do we want to make a change?
How are we going to do that?

Once we have our vision, we need to set some goals.

These are markers on our journey to achieve the product vision. They might be features, groups of changes, targeting and onboarding groups of people, or sharing what we’re doing. Or they could be something else entirely.

We then need to link those goals into what we do. If the team is working in sprints, work with them to set sprint goals that link back to your product vision and overall goals.

Your stories should then be tied to your sprint goals.

The backlog won’t write itself. But when you communicate WHY every story is important and how it contributes to your goals and vision, you start to build momentum with your team.

Whereas, if you get lost in the low level detail, you’ll end up putting too much emphasis on churning out stories.


Photo by Sunder Muthukumaran on Unsplash