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Crafting a Good Sprint Goal - Learning From the City of Pisa

August 13, 2019

Scrum is a goal driven framework. And that is what I really like about Scrum. If I can summarize Scrum Guide into one sentence, it is about delivering an increment that meets the Sprint Goal. A Sprint is not about matching our previous velocity, although velocity might be useful in certain cases. A Sprint should not also be used to lock certain amount of scope.

Many Scrum teams do not have a goal every Sprint. I cannot blame them. Their organisation's perceptions about Scrum are just about iterative compressed-waterfall. Some teams even have a goal of completing Story #1, Story #2, Story #3, etc. Their goal is basically to complete the mandated stories. This is not a good goal. A good goal should be outcome driven rather than output driven and gives wiggle room to provoke people's creativity and intelligence.

A good Sprint goal creates focus and synergy within the Scrum team. A great (or awesome) Product Owner would already have a goal in mind whenever entering Sprint Planning.

Coaching is about asking powerful questions rather than feeding people with answers or solutions. Asking powerful questions is tough. Asking the right questions can provoke people's intelligence. Whenever I coach Product Owners on Sprint Goals, I like to ask them these three questions:

  1. If this is going to be your last Sprint, what makes it important that makes you still want to fund this Sprint?
  2. How customer behaviour change after we deliver the increment from this Sprint?
  3. What business metrics will be impacted and by what percentage, after we deliver the increment from this Sprint?

I've also made a vlog down below on crafting a Sprint Goal. What questions do you ask to your Product Owner to help them come up with a good Sprint Goal? Don't forget to leave a comment below so that I can learn from you too.




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