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5 Tips to Meet Your Sprint Goal When Working in a Distributed Scrum Team

Updated: May 15, 2023

Working from home can be isolating and can lead to team members feeling left out or disconnected. Creating an engaging Sprint goal will help your Scrum team members understand how they are connected to the big picture and why their work matters. It can also be a powerful way to ensure that no one goes dark. Below are a few tips to successfully implement a Sprint Goal-centric mindset for a Distributed Team.

The Sprint Goal provides:

· A measurable objective for the time box.

· Context (and therefore scope) for the Product Backlog Items developed within the time box.

· Context for the Daily Scrum, which without it can typically devolve into a status report.

· A baseline expectation for measuring variance.

· An understanding of why the backlog items are being created.

The Sprint Goal is an objective set for the Sprint that is met through the implementation of the Product Backlog. It provides guidance to the Development Team on why it is building the Increment. The Sprint Goal also gives the Development Team flexibility regarding the functionality implemented within the Sprint. It is created during the Sprint Planning meeting and unifies the team under a common goal for the next Sprint.

Here are 5 Tips to Meet Your Sprint Goal:

1- Propose a Sprint Goal - The Product Owner should come to the Sprint Planning event prepared to propose a Sprint Goal. The goal should be a synthesis of a group of Product Backlog Items that are ready for development.

2- Allocate time to Negotiate - When teams make the Sprint Goal an afterthought, they tend to rush through the last minute of the Sprint Planning session to articulate the Sprint Goal. This leads to a half-baked Sprint Goal and consequently, a poor Sprint execution. Instead, consider allocating a portion of the agenda to revise the Sprint Goal. This will also give the Development Team the opportunity to negotiate the main objective with the Product Owner.

3- All Eyes on the Goal - If the Sprint Goal is out of sight, it can easily fall out of mind. Find a place to write the goal so that the team is continuously referencing it during the Sprint. I like adding it to the team’s digital Sprint Backlog by adding it to the Sprint Description. This way, the team will have a chance to read it every time they access the board.

4- Monitor Progress Toward the Goal - Although you are free to use a format of your choosing, the most fitting format to hold a remote Daily Scrum is the three-question format. During the meeting, each team member gets two minutes, depending on the size of the team, to answer three questions that help to provide a quick overview of the past 24-hours, the upcoming 24 hours, and problems that anyone is facing. I have observed that teams tend to cut the questions short and leave out the most important part - “to accomplish the Sprint Goal”. So be sure to cover the questions in the following matter:

· What did I work on yesterday to accomplish the Sprint Goal?

· What will I work on today to accomplish the Sprint Goal?

· Do I have any impediment that is standing in the way for us to accomplish the Sprint Goal?

5- Observe your Commitment - When teams do not create or observe the Sprint Goal, they experience a higher number of carryover backlog items. These are Sprint Backlog Items that could not be completed during the Sprint and are automatically moved to the next Sprint. This creates release delays as user stories tend to pile up. When team members do not have a common goal for the Sprint, they tend to think “it’s all the same whether I finish it now or later.” In other words, the commitment is not observed. So, evaluate the Sprint Success based on whether the Sprint Goal was met or not. This will remind the Development Team that the Sprint is about achieving the Sprint Goal, not about how many items an individual team member was able to complete.

Ensuring that your Sprints have well-defined Sprint Goals is a first step to having a highly productive Distributed Scrum Team. As the Development Team works, it keeps the Sprint Goal in mind. This continues to unify the team under a common co-created goal for each Sprint. To satisfy the Sprint Goal, it implements functionality. If the work turns out to be different than the Development Team expected, they collaborate with the Product Owner to negotiate the scope of the Sprint Backlog within the Sprint.



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