Product Backlog Refinement – Asteroids MVP

For some time, I have been using Asteroids as an analogy to help me explain Product Backlog Refinement in my workshops and classes.

It is an analogy that is quickly understood.

Imagine a backlog full of large asteroids. We know that we can’t take them out with a single shot. In the same way that we couldn’t bring in a large Product Backlog Item – PBI into a sprint and expect to get it “Done” by the end of the sprint.

So we have to break that asteroid down into smaller pieces. In fact we have to break these asteroids down a number of times before we can “take them out” with a single shot.

Sometimes I might use the familiar terms that they have seen in Jira. i.e. Epic, Feature, and Story.

I conclude with the observation that we can’t take out an Epic with a single shot. i.e. we cannot hope to complete an Epic in a single sprint. We are going to have to break it down into much smaller pieces before we can bring them in and expect to get them “Done”.

I’ve wanted to produce a video doodle of this explanation (and more) for a while and today, I finally found some time to try out the Doodly tool.

I showed it to my class, and their feedback was positive. So much so, that I am encouraged to record a script and refine the animation.

Look out for the next iteration in the weeks to come.