I’ve worked at and consulted with a plethora of technology companies – including many Fortune 500 companies – and I’m absolutely shocked that their product teams don’t socialize their product backlog with everyone in their company. This not only cuts your product team off from the rest of the company, but it also tells the rest of the company that the product team “doesn’t want or need your ideas, losers!”
The product team should make it easy to not only socialize their backlog, but to allow everyone in the company to add ideas to the backlog. Great ideas can come from anyone and anywhere, and that includes the guy in the mailroom, the intern, and even the janitor. And yes, these ideas are often better than many from executives or even those from the product team.
I also encourage companies to let everyone in the company add comments to the existing items in backlog, which helps a Product Manager further refine and update a user story and/or acceptance criteria. The Product Manager will still own the prioritization of the backlog, but they should never ever ever control (or limit) what goes into the backlog.
Some detractors may say that they use an online Agile board (e.g. PivotalTracker, Jira, etc.) to manage their backlog and it costs money to add everyone to that application. Valid argument, but it’s easy to take the top 20 ideas from the backlog and add it to the company intranet, or better yet send it out each week/month via your company newsletter and ask for feedback on the current ideas, as well as ask that anyone with a new idea to send it to the Product Manager who will then add it to the backlog.
Allowing everyone to participate in the development of products will result in increased collaboration across teams, extraordinary new ideas, and perhaps you’ll even find some product rockstars hiding on other teams. And come on, maniacal control of your backlog is soooo 2017. So I suggest you put this idea on your backlog asap. You’re welcome.
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