A curious observation occurred during sprints. My Product Owner (and good friend) would be rushing off to meeting or constantly stressing about work that wasn’t planned. Our Tech Lead (and good friend) and I concluded, he had a Secret Backlog in addition to the team’s Product Backlog.

A Secret Backlog is composed of the things that are desperately important to an individual, but the team or leadership cannot be influenced to work on them. These backlog items have real consequences and strict due dates. They can have significant financial impact if not executed properly or prudently. On the surface these projects require a specific skill set usually only found in the owner. Accordingly, the owner enjoys doing this work making the habit self-reinforcing and addictive.

This presentation hopes to provide clues about Secret Backlogs, allow space for participants to discover them in their companies, and provide the skills to help remediate.