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Shaping at the Potters Wheel

This week (as with most weeks), we recorded verbatim user feedback to our backlog and shaped that feedback into issues we can execute on our open backlog.

In February, 2020, we shared how user feedback from research interviews, sales conversations, and unsolicited communications makes its way to our backlog where it is related with other user feedback to find patterns, and transformed into solutions we prioritize for execution. We’ve likened this process to “transforming salt into gold” where we take each bit of product feedback as a grain of salt but if we find we’ve piled up a little salt mountain we make the decision to act.

Since launching Sprint Poker we’ve been collecting heaps of feedback. This feedback is invaluable to us as—unlike with our Retro and Check-In experiences—we aren’t frequent users of Sprint Poker until our updated GitHub integration is complete. This week, one of our customers asked if they could meet with us to pass along feedback from their entire scrum team after having used Sprint Poker for several weeks. We jumped at the opportunity.

A new tool in our arsenal for recording verbatim customer feedback is Grain. Grain automatically creates a transcription from videos, and let’s you extract sharable clips from the video simply by highlighting the words from the transcript. Now when we collect feedback, we copy the portion of the transcript to our public backlog issue and link to the video (which is kept secure from the public) so we can later get the verbatim context from the user themselves when it comes time to design. For example, this week we shaped an issue containing the user verbatim of  “[I want to update] the [Jira] epic label from within Sprint Poker” to be generalized as “in-line label editing designed.”

Benefits of an Open Backlog

Traditionally, companies have kept their backlogs secret, worried that a hungry competitor might jump ahead if they knew their plans. While a competitor could do this, the fact that Parabol has been able to stay at the forefront of the market shows that our company’s value is in our ability to execute, not necessarily in keeping plans secret.

The benefits an open backlog give to us are pretty sweet:

  • Backlog items can be sent to customers and validated (this also makes them feel listened to!)
  • All of our users and customers can participate in our planning
  • We can find and source prospective talent from the open-source community

To us, these benefits outweigh the risks and let us keep alchemizing salt into gold.


Metrics for Parabol Friday Ship #261-1The summer slump continues this week, and we expect to see it remain for another 4–6 weeks. Only our marketing funnel traffic continues to grow at an appreciable rate.

This week we…

published a snazzy new /join page to encourage folks to apply to work with us.

released v6.21.0 into production. Until this release, a common support request was, “how do I add the points field to Jira so I can use Sprint Poker?” This release walks a user through getting the right fields set up on Jira.

Jira field setup dialog design for Parabol Sprint Poker

published a Scrum 101 guide that explains the different parts of Scrum and how to get started with it.

made tools to make content. We revised our internal marketing toolkit and revised our template pages for publishing new web content.

held our end of Q2 board meeting. One of our board members even flow to L.A; what a treat to see an investor in person!

Next week we’ll…

kick off Sprint #84. This will be the product teams last sprint before we meet in Mérida, Mexico for our first in-person Product team retreat.

Have feedback? See something that you like or something you think could be better? Leave a public response here, or write to us.