OMG. The boring Backlog refinement meeting. Not again! 🙄

Ditch that boring meeting! The closer look on some common anti-patterns of the backlog refinement based on my observations.

Picture of the iPhone with a calendar app open. A long refinement meeting is on the screen.

Because it’s not a meeting!

Well, at least it’s not supposed to be one in the first place. Backlog refinement is not a meeting, it’s an activity. Don’t believe me? Check The Scrum Guide.

  • Do we have everything we need to deliver this?
  • Do we have a general idea on how to tackle this?
  • Do we share understanding about the desired outcome?
  • How long will it take to complete this?
  • Can it be split to smaller chunk while still delivering value?

Refinement is not the estimation!

Have you noticed that I did not say anything about estimating PBIs or stories? Yes, the team should agree on how long will it take to complete the PBI, but that does not mean that some mandatory planning poker or similar technique should be employed.

Refinement is not the place for low-level problem-solving!

This is tightly related to the estimations. Often the detailed low-level solution is discussed on refinement meetings to split the PBI into more detailed tasks.

Ok, so when do we split the PBI to tasks then?

The right question is: “do you need to?”

What to do with all this?

  • do backlog refinement in pairs or triads
  • have only a sync meeting(s), where these smaller groups present the results

Prague based full-stack developer and agile practitioner. Engineering Manager at @productboard 🚀