Who defines the Sprint Goal

Last post 03:45 pm January 31, 2021
by Rob McDonald
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03:46 pm January 26, 2021

My understanding is that it is the Product Owner ONLY who sets out the Sprint Goal. The developers will add items into the Sprint Backlog (from the Product backlog) so as to satisfy this Sprint Goal.

However, I've read in a few books that it's the Scrum Team who crafts the Sprint Goal. So does this mean that besides the PO, it's the devs and SM also who are involved in crafting out the Sprint Goal? 

Which is right? Is it the PO only who sets the Sprint Goal, or the Scrum Team as a whole who sets the Sprint Goal.

TIA.

04:52 pm January 26, 2021

The Scrum Team - when in doubt the Scrum Guide is the correct source of information on that topic.

The Product Owner proposes how the product could increase its value and utility in the current Sprint. The whole Scrum Team then collaborates to define a Sprint Goal that communicates why the Sprint is valuable to stakeholders. The Sprint Goal must be finalized prior to the end of Sprint Planning.

05:41 pm January 26, 2021

And to further support @Chris Belknap's statement this is from the 2017 revision of the Scrum Guide

During Sprint Planning the Scrum Team also crafts a Sprint Goal. The Sprint Goal is an objective that will be met within the Sprint through the implementation of the Product Backlog, and it provides guidance to the Development Team on why it is building the Increment.

And going through the Scrum Guide revision history I found this update made between the 2011 and 2013 revisions.

  1. Sprint Planning is now one event. Two topics are addressed in it: What can be done this Sprint, and How will the chosen work be done. After the Development Team forecasts the Product Backlog items for the Sprint, the Scrum Team crafts a Sprint Goal. The Sprint Goal creates coherence in the Development Team’s work that would not be present in separate initiatives without a common goal. Note the formal inclusion of a Sprint Goal.

Hope this clarifies your understanding.

07:26 pm January 26, 2021

Which is right? Is it the PO only who sets the Sprint Goal, or the Scrum Team as a whole who sets the Sprint Goal.

Regarding anything to do with Scrum, it's the Scrum Guide that's right. So the Scrum Team craft the Sprint Goal.

At best, all else is commentary.

07:50 am January 27, 2021

I am not native English, so, crafting the Sprint goal and defining the Sprint Goal is the same or not? 

08:22 am January 27, 2021

It is perhaps more correct to say that the Sprint Goal is crafted during Sprint Planning, because it will emerge during that event. It will evolve along with the forecast of work from the Product Backlog and a plan for its implementation.

The Sprint Goal is therefore the result of a joint creative endeavor. Only by the end of Sprint Planning can it be said to have been defined.

08:27 am January 27, 2021

Thanks Ian

02:13 am January 31, 2021

What's a good way to reset PO & team on Sprint goals?

Thankyou for this, I wanted to share what appears to be happening in my new project. 

The goal carved in stone

- In my new team as SM, the PO writes the goal days, even a week ahead of Sprint Planning, puts it in a document before our fortnightly Sprint starts

- The goal doc is shared just before Sprint planning, along with a list of stories. In planning the list of stories changes but the goal is never updated.

- PO reads goal out, but it is not negotiated at all. Those doing the work have no input.

- Each Sprint, team over commits

I observe this behaviour in Sprint

- the goal is not visible or discussed directly in standup

- team does not remove items they acknowledge they will likely not finish

- team has a huge effort at the end of the Sprint, sometimes just completing in time

- team feels they have no time, and no autonomy (from recent health check)

- P.O asks them how confident they feel of finishing, they rarely speak up ( the P.O is great at saying "no", can be difficult to persuade so that probably contributes)

- team feels bad, rinse & repeat