April 22, 2018

Scrum Master Studio Series: Frame# 2 - Sprint Goal 

In this series, I have been Introducing some helpful tips for Scrum Masters on “Systems Thinking” - a diagnostic Tool and a disciplined approach for examining problems more completely and accurately before acting. Lights on! Camera!


Read the Scripts, Role Play, Post me back the experimentation that you had tried!


Action!!! 1.. 2 .. 3


Scrum Masters are System thinkers. The Great Scrum Master has faith in both power and the humanizing nature of self-organizing teams. Attributes of self-organizing teams are that they try to reduce their dependency on management and increase ownership of the work. Some examples are: they make their own decisions about their work, estimate their work, have a strong willingness to cooperate, and team members feel they are coming together to achieve a common purpose in many ways. Still, we are going to be talking about Sprint's goal, and how does it enable "Self-Organization."


“By design & By talent,” wrote the basketball player Bill Russel of his team, the Boston Celtics, [we] were a team of specialists.


Like a team of Specialists in any field, our performance depended both on individual excellence and on how well we worked together. An idea from Russell’s resonates well with the Sprint goal.


Teams are not teams from day one; they will have to learn together, understand each other, develop a relationship, Russell is careful to tell us that it’s not friendship, it’s a different kind of relationship that made his team’s work special. That relationship, more than ay Individual triumph, gave him his most significant moments in the Sport.


Sprint Goal - A Common Caring

At its simplest level, a shared goal is an answer to the question,

“What do we want to create”?

Just as personal goals are pictures or images people carry in their heads and hearts, so too are shared vision pictures that people throughout a Scrum Team Carry. Scrum guide articulates it well,

The Sprint Goal is an objective set for the Sprint that can be met through the implementation of the Product Backlog. It guides the Development Team on why they are building an Increment. it is one of the reasons “Why” creating a compelling goal is essential. A goal is genuinely shared when you and I have a similar picture and are committed to one another having it, not just to each of us, individually having it. When people genuinely share a goal, they are connected, bound together by a common aspiration.


Why Shared Goal Matters?

A shared goal, especially Intrinsic one, uplifts people’s aspirations. Work becomes a part of pursuing a more significant purpose embodied in the Organization’s product or service- accelerating learning. They create the spark, the excitement that lifts a team out of the mundane.


Shared Goal compels courage - (One of the Scrum values )naturally that people don’t even realize the extent of their Courage.


Again, Scrum guide nicely articulated this -“The Scrum Team members dare to do the right thing and work on tough problems.”


Writing Great Sprint Goals

Like any operational goal, a sprint goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. As sprints are time-boxed iterations, every sprint goal is naturally time-bound: It has to be reached by the end of the sprint. That must deliver some business value.


When selecting your sprint goal, remember that trying out new things requires failure. Failure creates the empirical data needed to make informed assumptions about what should and maybe done next. Failing early helps you succeed in the long term. Scrum teams often start with Technical tasks as Sprint goals, that's ok as long as they learn & Improve over some time. Great Scrum Masters provoke Intentionally Controversial Conversation to challenge the Development team and the Product owner about "compelling" Sprint goal.


After you have run a few sprints, the emphasis usually starts to shift from resolving uncertainty to completing features so that they can be released – at least to selected users. It allows you to gather quantitative data and to understand how users employ your product in its target environment. The shift should be reflected in your sprint goal, which now focuses on “getting stuff done” rather than testing ideas, as the picture below illustrates.


Lastly, shared goal addresses one of the first puzzles that has thwarted efforts to develop Systems thinking in Management, How can a commitment to the long term be fostered. Before I conclude, Great Scrum Masters encourages and supports a "compelling" Sprint goal; A healthy sprint goal will help emerge strategies. The Starting point for next year's plan is almost always this year’s strategy that is resulting from “smaller goals.” Remember to Remember; Improvements are Incremental.

Happy “Systemic” Thinking. Happy Scrum Mastering.


References & Inspiration:

Russel & his Team reference (Senge)

Systems Thinking- The fifth discipline

Harvard Business Articles