“It’s already in the backlog”

Sounds familiar? You have an idea for improving the product you are developing. You wrote a thorough mail explaining it to the Product Manager, including quotes of Steve Jobs and references from Google and Facebook. You are sure this is a great idea, a killer feature, this is what the product needs, Actually, you feel that you are a genius, in a few years you will have your own 1B$ startup. Anyway, till then…you are waiting for a reply… another day pass… no response yet.

After a few days, you get a mail from the PM, excitement! You read the PM reply — “it’s already In the backlog”, with a link to a backlog table with 450 lines. Discussion close.

This machine-like response, makes you feel that there is no one on the other side, even if such feature or a similar one has been raised before, wouldn’t it worth at least discussing it? The PM has just lost another engaged employee.

The most important trait of a PM, is to be likable. Innovation comes from people, and being people-driven is critical for the disruptive of the Product Manager and the product. “Canceling” employees ideas is just wrong, especially with the reason that’s it’s already in the backlog. A backlog is just another log file. If someone suggest an existing idea, maybe now it’s the time to do it, and if not, it is important to keep your team engaged.

As a PO, I don’t believe in a backlog, but in a very short TODO list with at most 10–20 items from the last few weeks, aligned to the current business goals. If it’s a good idea, I trust my team to raise it again, they are my inspiration, not a log file.