Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash

Focus! You’re using your Backlog wrong…

A simple concept to increase your team’s focus and shipping speed

Eitan Gersh Kaplawi
Jan 13 · 2 min read

As any team that aims to ship experiences, we strive to work on the most important tasks, so we invest effort into prioritizing them in our backlog, great we have a prioritized list of tasks.
Team is off to a good start! 🎉
Let the coding begin! 💻+🍕+☕️+🍺

This is usually what ends up happening:

Let’s assume our team has 3 developers.
DEV 1 takes the top task.
DEV 2 takes 2nd task.
DEV3 takes third task.

DEV 1 completes his task first. Usually he’ll go to the backlog and start working on task 4 (the top prioritized task there). This means that tasks 2 & 3 aren’t done, but we are starting work on task 4. Pretty soon we end up with a bunch of semi-complete tasks, and nothing substantial to show. Team feels like it’s not making major progress.
Instead of concentrating our focus on the top priorities, we opened another thread, and started work on a task which we agreed is less important, not cool!

Focus your efforts! Don’t open more threads!

In order to make sure we’re focused and complete the top priority tasks. We’ve decided that once you’re done with a task, instead of taking a new one from the backlog, first try to join a task which is already in progress. Close existing tasks before opening new ones.

This has a number of positive effects:

  1. Team is focused, and is working on the must important tasks.
  2. When starting a task the DEV taking it knows someone will join, so she has to break it into small tasks.
    This Forces us to think ahead and plan.
  3. More than one team member knows what’s going on in each of our features.
  4. Shit gets done faster.

I like thinking of teams as multiple vectors (each team member is a different vector), if we want to accomplish things we need to make sure that all vectors are pointing in the right direction.
Focus your vectors as much as possible!

What do you think? Have you tried something like this?

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I’m also on Twitter Eitan Gersh-Kaplawi

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Eitan Gersh Kaplawi

Written by

I spend my days on the web, I spend my nights in the web.

Product Management field guide

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