🖖 My name is Maarten Dalmijn. I help teams beat the Feature Factory and discover better ways of delivering value together. I currently work as a Head of Product at Rodeo.

✔️I introduced Scrum at the fastest-growing start-up in the Netherlands. I helped the start-up to scale up its Product Management and delivery process across multiple tech offices around the globe after the company secured a 22$m series A funding round.

🎤 I regularly speak at events and on podcasts. For all recordings of my speaking engagements and podcast episodes I was featured on see the list below 👇.


Crafting a clear and overarching Sprint Goal during Sprint Planning

Boxer Mike Tyson once said:

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” — Mike Tyson

In military warfare a similar saying exists:

“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” — Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

No matter how much time you spend planning, you can never make a plan that covers everything. A plan that covers all scenarios and every (re)action of the enemy. Reality is too complicated and unpredictable to fit in a plan.

Unless you are the A-Team of course.

To address the complexity and uncertainty of reality, the army accompanies all…

Wrong estimates aren’t your fault, but they are definitely your problem

Empty conference room
Empty conference room
Image by Pexels

I was sitting alone in a meeting room and anxiously waiting for my manager to enter.

I had been summoned for a sudden meeting by our Chief Product Officer (CPO). He told me the meeting was urgent and important, and I should drop whatever I was doing to make it.

I was five months into my first job as a product owner. My seven-month contract was nearly expired, so I was sitting there worried and contemplating my future at the company.

Finally, the door opened, and he arrived with a beaming smile. Immediately my nerves disappeared. I still remember his…

Learn how to spread ideas that are easy to digest

As a Product Owner, I don’t build products.

Read that sentence again. It probably sounds wrong, but on reflection, I hope you’ll realize it is a simple and inevitable truth of the job.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Like an orchestra conductor who doesn’t produce any sound during a performance, I don’t build the product that is supposed to deliver value.

The Scrum Team works on our product, I’m there to support every step of the way to ensure we make the lives of our customers better and are able to capture that value for the business.

An essential part of the Product Owner's role…

An elaborate roadmapping circus prevents companies from having to face the uncomfortable truth that we can’t have total control

I had trouble sleeping during the weekend because I was anxious to experience that most terrible day of the quarter again — the roadmap show and tell.

On that glorious date, all Product Owners are summoned and condemned to sit in a meeting room a whole day to discuss the roadmaps of all teams with a time horizon of nine months — including precise dates for every high-level feature and mapping all dependencies with other teams.

That’s one long sentence, but trust me, by experiencing the length of that sentence, you now have a better understanding of how I felt…

SAFe sells the illusion you can radically change without leaving your comfort zone

Let’s try to make a list of all the reputable names who support Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Think about it. Does anyone come to mind?

I read hundreds of articles per year, and there’s literally not a single thought leader I can recall who champions SAFe as something great. I’m sure these advocates do exist, but if they do, they are few, and far outnumbered by those who oppose SAFe.

Now let’s make a list of all the respectable names I am aware of who have expressed their doubts and dissatisfaction about SAFe in writing:

4 Scrum anti-patterns that lead to technical debt and what you should be doing instead

three sticky notes with the words “to do,” “doing,” and “done” on them
three sticky notes with the words “to do,” “doing,” and “done” on them
Photo by Eden Constantino on Unsplash

Let me set one thing straight right off the bat: Scrum by itself doesn’t cause technical debt. However, few companies do Scrum right. As a result, many Scrum implementations do end up creating significant technical debt.

All four technical-debt-producing anti-patterns described in this article are widespread, based on my personal experience working at and advising many companies.

Why do some Scrum implementations inadvertently generate massive technical debt while others don’t? What can we do to prevent it from happening?

Before we dive into this further, let’s first start by defining technical debt. …

Splitting User Stories into more User Stories often means you are deceiving yourself (and your users too!)

Nussi Einhorn posted the following picture on LinkedIn:

A list of convoluted and complicated User Stories on the left, on the right an alternative list by expressing the same User Stories as Feature with clear titles
A list of convoluted and complicated User Stories on the left, on the right an alternative list by expressing the same User Stories as Feature with clear titles
Picture by Nussi Einhorn, CEO at Intentux.com

The left-hand side of the image portrays a confusing mess of User Stories. Try scanning them and getting the gist — you won’t.

The right-hand side of the picture showcases a crisp and clear alternative by using descriptive titles that summarize the features. Easy to read and understand.

The image brilliantly illustrates how you can apply User Stories in the wrong way, making them convoluted and difficult to understand. Unfortunately, in my experience, most people apply User Stories exactly as conveyed in the picture.

However, when you’re employing User Stories in this…

Scrum is too easy to misinterpret — are we to blame, or is it the fault of Scrum?

I want to preface this article by saying I love working with Scrum. I am not writing this from a place of bitterness but a position of affection. I’d like there to be more openness when discussing the flaws of Scrum. I also want to stress I’ve written far more positive than negative articles about Scrum.

When I publish an article where I criticize Scrum, I keep receiving the same dogmatic rebuttals from Scrum practitioners. The time is right to address the elephant in the room: let’s stop pretending Scrum is perfect.

The Scrum garden of Eden

I’m still waiting for that moment where I…

When you don’t manage your gargantuan Product Backlog, it manages you

I remember thinking: “How the hell did we end up in this tremendous mess? I did not sign up for this.”

Regret instantly kicked in. After studying the various Jira projects and support boards I would be overseeing for only a few minutes, my mind drifted away. I wondered what kind of dysfunctions could be at the core of this scandalous amount of clutter.

An absolute unit of a sheep, endearingly called a ‘chonk’, closely resembling my gargantuan Product Backlog.

The day I started as a Product Owner for three new teams, I inherited an extraordinary legacy from my predecessors:

  • A support board with 80 issues, some of them older than a year. Despite having ironclad…

Maarten Dalmijn

130+ articles with > 1.4 million views on beating the Feature Factory and better ways of delivering value together. https://mdalmijn.com

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