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Why a Scrum Team should understand the "why" in Sprint Planning

The 2020 version of the Scrum Guide introduced the topic of “why” in Sprint Planning.

The “why” is the Sprint Goal. It is meant to create a common understanding of why the team is working on these items. It gives the team purpose. Be sure that during your Sprint planning session you are discussing the purpose aspect of why the team is executing on its items.

Why does “why” matter? In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink describes intrinsic motivators. He cites purpose, autonomy, and the pursuit of mastery as the three main intrinsic motivators.

Often, when we delegate tasks or when we take on tasks, we don't talk about why we're doing these tasks. As leaders, sometimes we focus on the “what” and the “how” leaving the individual that is going to perform the work with little room for creativity or autonomy because we have already told them how they're going to do it. We didn't give them an intrinsic motivator or a “why”.

So next time you are discussing a work item, make sure that you are clear on why this item needs to be done. Discuss the big picture, the higher purpose for why the team is doing the work. Leave out the “how” they are going to do the work. They are the ones that understand how to do this best because they do it every day.


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