I have often written about how absurd Agile is. This paper looks at the silliness in Agile frameworks surrounding backlog creation.
Most popular Agile frameworks start from the point of having a backlog which begs the question of what needs to be done to get to that point. Creating a framework from the point of having an ordered backlog is the Agile equivalent of the “fable” of antipodes. In the fourth century, the fathers of the western church denied that the earth was round. In the twenty-first century, the fathers of Agile deny that there is any work before backlog creation, yet in my experience, most Agile activities begin way before that point. The complex part of an Agile initiative is deciding what to build and what needs to be in the backlog; it’s not the development process per se. As agilists, we have allowed statements that are manifestly wrong to go unchallenged, and what’s more, we reinforce these statements by thorough training and certification.
Consider the following statement from the Scrum Guide 2020. “A Product Owner orders the work for a complex problem into a Product Backlog”. Exactly how does a Product Owner begin to understand the needed product and, therefore, what work should be in the backlog? What guidance is provided by the framework to help the product owner with this complex problem? Finally, how does the product owner steer the path to the goal or the sun? These are all questions where product owners need help, yet it is not forthcoming.
Development doesn’t happen in a vacuum. To fund a team, an organization or sponsor must know what is needed and at least suggest a path to steer.