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Sprint Goal – Focus for the Scrum team

Posted on Jan 16, 2015 by in Agile & Lean, Product Management | 2 comments

When the Scrum teams at Corinna‘s company first started sprinting they neglected to set Sprint Goals. This often led to problems when push came to shove. Nowadays they always set a goal after Planning, the whole team together. A Sprint Goal allows the dev team to make good tradeoffs even if they can’t check back with the PO.

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Update Jan 20th, 2015: If you’d like a bit more structure, check out Roman Pichler’s Sprint Goal Template

Update Jan 7th, 2016: According to a pingback by introv3rtedagilist the Scrum Guide states that “the Scrum Team crafts a Sprint Goal”, never the PO alone. I don’t know if that phrase is a recent change or if it slipped past unnoticed during my research. I’ll probably change the 1-pager to reflect the correction. I’d like to keep the idea that you can use an envisioned Sprint Goal to help with ordering the backlog.

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Content of the 1-pager:

Sprint Goal – Why are you doing this iteration?

What is a sprint goal?
Each sprint should have an explicit sprint goal, e.g. written out across the Scrum board. Think of the goal as the elevator pitch of a sprint. During planning a Scrum team commits to the sprint goal, not a bunch of stories.

Why set one?
The goal helps the team focus and make good trade-offs, even when the product owner is not available to help. A team might reach the sprint goal even if they can’t finish all stories.

Who sets the goal?

The product owner can envision a goal beforehand to help her order the backlog according to that goal. But the whole team gets to choose the real goal at the end of planning, when they know which stories will be part of the sprint.

Examples of good and bad goals

  • Bad: “Complete all 4 stories we pulled” 
    Doesn’t add information to enable good team decisions
  • Bad: “Improve the dubbledigook widget”
    Completely fuzzy. How can you to tell when / if you’re done?
  • Better (i.e. enabling and measurable):
    “Customers can pay with bank transfer”
    “Time to first byte on the landing page is less than 0.7s” 
    “Increase conversion rate by 10%”.

 

Sources:

2 Comments

  1. I like the idea of considering the sprint goal as an elevator pitch for the sprint.

    Albeit:
    “During planning a Scrum team commits to the sprint goal, not a bunch of stories.”
    “But the whole team gets to choose the real goal at the end of planning, when they know which stories will be part of the sprint.”

    So, they choose the stories, extract a sprint goal out of it and then commit to the sprint goal rather than the stories.
    Isn’t it more intuitive to set the sprint goal and, consequently, pick the stories?

    • I like it when Product Owners propose a sprint goal. Like you say, it’s gives focus for which stories to pull. But sometimes you find out that the proposed goal is not achievable within one sprint. That’s what this phrasing takes into account.

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