It’s Not What You Do. It’s What You Do Next.

I see too many teams and product owners obsessing over their entire product backlogs. Garden Path Made of Round Stone Tiles

You do not need to have your entire your product backlog figured out.

You do not need to know what to do. You only need to know what to do next.

Do that. See how your users and customers respond. Then let their feedback guide what to do next.

Don't blindly adopt anything.

Scrum is a self-organizing team that is given a challenge and to meet that challenge works in short, time boxed iterations during which they meet daily to quickly synchronize their efforts. At the start of each iteration they meet to plan what they will accomplish. At the end they demonstrate what has been accomplished and reflect on how well they worked together to achieve it.

That's it. Anything else---release planning, burndowns, and so on is optional. Stick to the above and find the local optimizations that fit your environment. No expert knows more about your company than you do.

A Free PDF to Help You Choose the Approach

A Free PDF to Help You Choose the Approach

I’ve created a PDF you can download that will help you decide which approach is best for any story you’re adding detail to. It also includes examples of the two approaches.

Download my PDF



Mike Cohn

About the Author

Mike Cohn specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques to build extremely high-performance teams. He is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile as well as the Better User Stories video course. Mike is a founding member of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance and can be reached at If you want to succeed with agile, you can also have Mike email you a short tip each week.

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