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How do you handle changes to the product vision during backlog refinement?

Navigating Changes to Product Vision in Backlog Refinement

Today, I’m addressing a frequently broached topic,  “How do you handle changes to the product Vision in backlog refinement?”

I know this question can be a bit of a head-scratcher, so let’s unravel this complex topic together.  🙌

Unpacking the Product Vision

First and foremost, let’s understand the essence of the product vision.  As I’ve often remarked, “Your product vision is the articulation of why this product matters, what’s the difference it’s going to make in the world.”

It’s paramount, the ultimate North Star in the Agile world.  This isn’t something transient or fleeting.  It’s the very foundation, the essence.  

And to add a layer of clarity, while Scrum also talks about a ‘product goal’, which is still strategic but often a shorter-term focus, the vision truly stands tall.  It’s the big thing, the lighthouse guiding us. 🌟

Refinement Challenge

I’ll be straightforward here.  It’s not a refinement problem.

A critical question arises when there’s a shift in the product vision during refinement and your product vision undergoes a change.

Is the current product goal and, indeed, if you’re in Scrum, is the current Sprint goal valid?

If yes, as I have often advised, we will have to close that sprint down and do something else.

If not, you trudge ahead, keeping in mind the existing objectives, refining, understanding, and sizing up tasks.

The Domino Effect of a Vision Change

Should a vision change render the current backlog unsupportive of the new direction, it’s back to the drawing board to navigate the cascade of vision changes.  🎲

Remember, that big picture is gone if your vision stops being valid.  It means revisiting the very foundation of the product: who it’s for, what pain points it addresses, and its overarching value proposition.

And yes, that’s far before we delve into refinement.

Essentially, you’re likely to be putting everything on hold to understand and go back through that ideation.

It’s crucial to revisit and redefine the audience, the pain points addressed, and, most significantly, the value proposition.

Finding Your Path Amidst the Shift

Amidst all these changes, always remember that your role here is not to worry too much about refinement if you’ve got work and it makes sense.

The real task?

Instead, focus upstream, grasping how the evolved vision trickles down into a product backlog suitable for refinement.

Embracing Stability

On a brighter note, here’s a bit of solace from something I’ve observed throughout my journey: most products have a good, relatively stable vision.

They are abstract, and broad-reaching, and even if product goals pivot, visions tend to remain consistent over extended periods.

Next Steps

Consider my courses for those keen to plunge deeper into Agile and Scrum intricacies.  There’s a wealth of insights and strategies waiting for you.  🚀

They’re packed with hands-on insights to guide you on this journey.

If you are interested in becoming an agile coach and value mentored, coach-driven skills development in your journey to mastery, visit our Growing Agile Coaches page.

If you are inspired by the idea of an online apprenticeship for a scrum master, visit

If you like the idea of becoming a scrum master and want to achieve internationally recognised and certified accreditation as a scrum master, visit our Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course page.

If you are already a scrum master and want to upskill to a more advanced level of knowledge and agile coaching capability, visit our Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) course page.

If you have several years’ experience as a scrum master and want to validate and certify your professional skills, visit our Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master (CSP-SM) course page.

For more information on John McFadyen, visit or connect with John on LinkedIn at

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John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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