The Backlog

Based on the blog post of Stephan Schmidt: The Framing of the Developer

We have a dominant frame in Software Development since Scrum arrived, the backlog. Scrum tells developers to take responsibility for throughput and deadlines, but the product is owned by the product owner, because he owns the backlog. Features are put in the backlog by him after he talks with marketing, sales, management, the CEO, customers… It isn’t the developers asking the customer what a product should look like, but the product owner telling them what features he wants. Success is tied to implementing the items of the backlog: the more features from the backlog we complete, the more success we have, and the more developers we have, the more features we can implement, so more success we will have! In this context, developers are treated as a resource. The more of them and the more efficient the resource is used, the better. If there are problems, CEO’s think “Tech didn’t deliver” and problems arise because “IT is too slow”. Contrary to that, developers think that product owners need to tell them what to work on, they are not responsible for success.
So developers are no longer in control and feeling in control is one of the main drivers for happiness. Although everyone flatters developers, they are in high demand and salaries keep rising and rising, they feel less and less happy building stuff they don’t understand, have no impact or that simply doesn’t make sense. In an article titled “Extremely disillusioned with technology. Please help” an unknown engineer wrote “Then I worked for a tech giant, and then for a high-growth unicorn. It shocked me how dilbertesque they both were. Full of politicians and burnt out engineers in golden handcuffs who can’t wait to get out, and meaningless business speak, and checked out employees who pretend they’re excited about everything all the time.”

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