Whip Your Backlog Into Shape

Remember the band Devo and those red hats they wore during the music video for “Whip It?” Me too. Devo and those red hats came to mind recently while I was preparing to deliver a Scrum training.

It was Saturday night, and like most people, I was reading the Scrum Guide. I was thinking about a different way to explain Product Backlog items. In the past, I’d used the acronym DOVE, but it just didn’t “spark joy” for me. For those of you who don’t spend your Saturday evenings reading the Scrum Guide, it states that “Product Backlog items have the attributes of a description, order, estimate, and value.”

I shuffled the letters around and landed on DEVO. Hmm… interesting, I thought. The hamster got on the wheel and it all started to come together. DEVO, I thought… those guys wore the red hats that were bigger at the bottom and smaller at the top.

It reminded me of the classic image you see in all Scrum trainings when you’re learning about the Product Backlog. The one that shows the big blocks at the bottom and the smaller blocks at the top. It’s a fine image, but it doesn’t have a theme song… WHIP IT!



So there you have it. Here is a new way to think of and explain the Product Backlog and its items. The items tend to be larger at the bottom and get smaller at the top, just like the Devo hats. And Product Backlog items should have the attributes of:

D escription

E stimate

V alue

O rder

Now, on Saturday nights, I won’t just read the Scrum Guide. I’ll read it while listening to Devo… Whip it! Whip it good!

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