December 8, 2020

The Sprint Goal is a commitment for the Sprint Backlog

This is part #21 of 59 in the series Scrum Guide 2020 Updates

In the 2020 Scrum Guide, Ken and Jeff augmented the idea of the Sprint Goal. The Sprint Goal is a commitment to ensure transparency and focus against progress during a Sprint.

The Sprint Goal is the single objective for the Sprint. Although the Sprint Goal is a commitment by the Developers, it provides flexibility in terms of the exact work needed to achieve it. The Sprint Goal also creates coherence and focus, encouraging the Scrum Team to work together rather than on separate initiatives.
The Sprint Goal is created during the Sprint Planning event and then added to the Sprint Backlog. As the Developers work during the Sprint, they keep the Sprint Goal in mind. If the work turns out to be different than they expected, they collaborate with the Product Owner to negotiate the scope of the Sprint Backlog within the Sprint without affecting the Sprint Goal.

The 2020 Scrum Guide

The Sprint Goal is a short term mission that can be achieved in service to the Product Goal. The Sprint Goal should describe the idea of “Why are we doing this Sprint” and should encapsulate a step towards that desired outcome. There should only be one per Sprint, to give the team focus.

The Scrum Guide is not going to tell you what your Sprint Goals should be, this is something that is unique to your business context, and should be heavily influenced by the Product Goal. I would expect the Product Owner to come to Sprint Planning with an idea of what the next Sprints Sprint Goal should be, as well as likely Backlog Items that fit. If this idea, through a prospective Sprint Goal is communicated effectively with the Developers then they will be prepared for Sprint Planning.

Some Good Examples of a Product Goal:

  • “Add [capability] to entice new users”
  • “Improve [feature] to make it more usable”

The Sprint Goal should represent the next most valuable outcome towards the Product Goal and is part of the Sprint Backlog. It is the commitment that is made by the Developers towards a valuable outcome. It helps the Developers understand the purpose, and should give them enough information to help them make the right choices during the Sprint.

Does your team have a Sprint Goal?