Empower Teams with Sprint Goals
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters
The Sprint Goal is a core tenet in Scrum, an agile development framework. According to the Scrum Guide, the sprint goal is the “single objective for the sprint....The Sprint Goal also creates coherence and focus, encouraging the Scrum Team to work together rather than on separate initiatives.” It is an artifact of the Sprint planning session and empowers the development team to prioritize and focus work.
Recently I had the pleasure of working on a project that embraced the creation of Sprint Goals for each sprint and experienced first hand the focus and empowerment they provide. Inevitably there is the sprint where some tickets take longer or other tickets are created mid-stream to help achieve the Sprint Goal. When these occur, the Sprint Goal helps to align the team on any necessary re-prioritization and keeps them focused on a common goal. When this happened on our project we were empowered to readjust priority of tickets within the sprint to keep us focused on accomplishing the Sprint Goal. In certain conditions it also resulting in descoping of tickets from the sprint altogether if keeping them could jeopardize the Sprint Goal.
Sprint Goals also serve as a built in litmus test for bringing tickets into the sprint. When the team has a common focus and goal, tasks that conflict with or could jeopardize that goal become more apparent. If the Sprint Goal is to increase an application's stability and polish, the implementation of new and complex features are in direct opposition to this goal. When asking if these tickets should be brought into the sprint, the team can identify this conflict and push its priority to a future sprint. If that results in additional friction within the team, that indicates that not everyone is on board with the Sprint Goal and it should be revisited.
The additional level of focus and team empowerment provided by Sprint Goals are a valuable iteration over mishmash sprints. A mishmash sprint focuses on the amount of work that can be completed by a team, but without a common team focus. In my experience, the lack of this shared goal can result in individuals being more concerned with their individual tickets rather than how their work pieces together. Additionally adjusting to priority questions can become more individualized and arbitrary. Embracing Sprint Goals provides a guiding light for the team as they move towards the next iteration.
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