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Ask the Right Question to Get Started

March 5, 2024

When a new Product Owner looks at an empty Product Backlog, it can be overwhelming to get started.  It can be tempting to ask yourself, what is everything we need to do to deliver this Product?


But that’s the wrong question - and it can lead to writer’s block.


Writer’s block is not something that we typically associate with the Product Owner.  But the Product Owner is responsible for the content and ordering of the Product Backlog.  Content is the keyword here.  When you are staring at an empty Product Backlog, it can be hard to put the metaphorical pen to paper and get started, especially if you ask yourself such a large, overwhelming question like “What is everything we need to deliver this [fill-in-the-blank]?”.


The Scrum Whisperer

Instead of asking, “What is everything we need?” the Product Owner should ask a different question.  The Product Owner should ask instead, “What is the most valuable thing to do next?”.  If there was a Scrum whisperer, that’s what they would be whispering in the ear of every Product Owner faced with an empty Product Backlog.


The we in Team?  (Wait a second….)


One way for the Product Owner to get started is to recognize that they’re not in this alone.  Every Product Owner works with one or more Scrum teams.  Developers on the Scrum team are an excellent, practical source for actionable next steps for the Product.  


So, schedule a brainstorming session.  Remind Developers of the Product Vision and Goal and then ask - what’s the most valuable thing to do next?  And listen.  They might just whisper something valuable in your ear!


Scrum Day 2024
For more about how to deliver value sooner to your organization, get tickets to this year's Scrum Day conference in Madison, Wisconsin! This is the conference for focusing on value delivery. Scrum Day is scheduled for October 23, 2024. Get tickets at



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