Sprint Goals

When I first arrive in an organisation, whether it's to be a Scrum Master, a Product Owner or an Agile Coach, one of the questions I ask is what is your current Sprint's Goal?

I often get a slightly confused look, then a stumbled answer along the lines of "to deliver what we agreed on in the Sprint Planning meeting". And that's great, but that's not a Sprint Goal, that's more business as usual.

A Sprint Goal is different for each sprint and is a simple summary of the desired outcome of your sprint. So why focus on that? A lot of studies have been done on setting a vision for an organisation and then sharing that vision throughout the organisation. Psychologically it helps to enthuse the team to keep focused on that goal, aligning the team with a common purpose.

When trying to write the Sprint Goal, consider the following:

  • Why are we doing this Sprint?
  • How will we know we have achieved the goal?
  • How do we get there?

Examples of sprint goals are:

"Reduce our technical debt by 30%"
"Complete the deployment module."
"Decide on an architecture that will provide scalability and stability over the next 5 years."

Goals do not have to be long winded and verbose. Ideally they should be short and concise, have a clear purpose, without ambiguity. They should be measurable. You need to know how to achieve the goal and how to know you have achieved it when you get there.

Put the Sprint Goal above the Sprint Backlog or on a notice board where it is visible during the standup and if necessary, bring it to the planning sessions and retrospectives.

Once you use Sprint Goals regularly you will notice the shift in the teams focus, and how they are working in an even more focused way, challenging tasks to ensure they are aligned with the Sprint Goal.

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