Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Product Backlog Flows

There are plenty of discussions in the agile community about how agile teams work and develop over time. Often neglected or poorly understood is how that work makes its way from the customer to the team. Below is a blueprint for creating an effective and efficient flow of work. I’ve included details but also left it flexible enough to be customized for your company’s specific circumstances.

- See more at:

Self-Organizing Development Team


·        Self-organizing teams are composed of individuals who manage their own work, pick up work based on need, and participate in team decision making.

·        Self-organizing teams must have a common focus, mutual trust, and respect.

By being self-organizing and self-managing, the team brings decision making to the level of the problem. This increases the speed and accuracy of problem solving.

Self-organizing and the Scrum Framework

The Scrum Guide gives the Scrum Master the role of coaching the Development Team in self-organization but doesn't provide insight or guide as how this is accomplished. So …

Tips For Management, Agile Coach, and Scrum Master to organize a team toward self-organization

·       Management (yes, management) must establish any parameters that the scrum team is required to work within. For example, usually only managers can hire and fire people. Otherwise, management should ensure they don’t get in the team’s way. Managers need to support the scrum teams rather than be a distraction.

·       Give a scrum team room enough to fail in order to allow them to succeed. Managers must not ‘step in’ every time they perceive the team is on the wrong track. The team may very well be on the wrong track but there are several inspect & adapt opportunities for the scrum team to correct itself. This is the big reason sprints are short, no more than 30 days, and most often 1 or 2-weeks long. I've seen a development team start a sprint, go down the wrong architectural path, discover it, do a re-design, re-do work they had already done, and still meet the sprint goal. True story. However, the chief architect had chewed his nails down to the knuckle while not saying anything. How proud was the development team after this? Extremely – they were trusted to get the job done and done right.

·       From the start, guide the team to do scrum (scrum guide). Shape the mindset and expectations from the start as this will be harder to influence and change later. Doing scrum by-the-book will not make you good at doing scrum but it will be easier for the team to later learn and adopt the nuances and spirit of scrum. 

·       Help the team become confident in their use of scrum early on. Use examples of how each inspect & adapt meeting can help improve the team’s work and their environment.

·       Remove any misconceptions the team has of scrum. Most teams will perceive that scrum is easy to do but it is actually hard to do scrum right day after day. Anticipate the development team’s reaction to this truth.

·       Use positive reinforcement and build a sense of achievement in the team by helping guide the team to successfully completing their sprints. Do not allow a team to over-commit in their sprint planning meeting based on hope alone. Guide the team to select a sprint goal that is achievable and don’t let ‘hope we’ll get it done’ be the team’s strategy. Hope is not a strategy.

·       Encourage ongoing adherence to scrum and agile practices. Watch for danger signs the team is reverting to older, non-agile ways of thinking and doing. For example, do they want to skip the daily scrum or sprint retrospective. Do they think only one person can do work in a specific area. Are they not forthcoming at meetings.

·       Get the customers and users involved in the process. Customers and users need to be engaged during requirement gathering but most importantly, must be engaged with the scrum team during the sprint review. If the customers or users are consistent no-shows at the sprint review or not showing interest at the sprint results, the development team will more likely lose their sense of purpose and possibly blame agile for their lowered self-worth.

·       Inspect & Adapt over blame. When someone on the team messes up, don’t say “Jane screwed up” or anything like this. I would try and restate it along the lines, “how was it the team allowed this thing to happen and what can the team do to prevent this from happening again?” Encourage the team to re-examine their team processes to see if something needs to change to avoid repetition.  Every effort should be made to make the team, as an entity, the focal point during inspect & adapt meetings and discussions rather than specific individuals. This will help reinforce that the everyone on the team is equally responsible and accountable for the results and outcomes of the team. This is along the “all for one and one for all” philosophy. While it’s important to know someone forgot to get their code, document, etc. reviewed, it’s more important to understand how the team allowed this to happen and to see if there’s something the team can do in the future to prevent it from happening again.

·       Identify team members who hamper or slow down the team’s productivity because of their personal characteristics and practices. Individual personality of team members can be considered more important than skill sets when selecting people for a development team. Work with the team and management to remove people who have difficulties adjusting to agile. This is a hard decision but one that needs to happen quickly; these are not ‘bad’ people but are people who can’t adjust to agile and scrum ways of thinking. Many believe the most productive scrum teams are open, honest, willing to change, and can see the team being greater than the sum of the individual team members. If a person doesn’t have or can’t quickly acquire these characteristics, then they may be an obstacle to self-organization and pose a threat to productivity necessitating their removal.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why Just Saying "Good Job" Might Be a Bad Idea

Have you been to a Sprint Review where someone sings out, "good job"?

When this happens we might feel happy or encouraged to continue doing whatever it is we did in the review but what does this comment really mean? The idea that someone calls over their shoulder "Good Job" as they leave a meeting, can leave the team in a slight quandary, what exactly was good?

Scrum Teams need to be able to improve in areas where improvement is warranted. Having constructive criticism is healthy for the team and can help them focus on improving whether that be taking a valuable behaviour or practice and making it better or re-thinking actions and activities that don't add much value. The key is getting valuable feedback. For the Scrum Team, it's important to get as specific as possible about what someone thought was good (or in need of improvement) but more importantly, is why they thought to mention it in the first place.

Understanding why is arguably more important than the what in two aspects: 1) it can bring the Scrum Team insight to what the stakeholder values and 2) it can inspire the Scrum Team to design and build better solutions to meet stakeholder expectations of valuable software. For example, if a stakeholder says they liked the demo segment of the sprint review because it showed an easy way to make a credit card payment, the Scrum Team might conclude that the stakeholder values simplicity in the user experience. The Scrum Team might also conclude that in the future, they'll put a little more attention in the UX design to exploit simplicity.

Scrum Teams need feedback to self-improve and need to find the best way to get the gather this information. The easiest way is for the Scrum Team to listen for all stakeholder comments during any of the team's Inspect & Adapt events (daily standup, sprint planning, sprint review). The team may need to follow up with the stakeholders to understand the what and why of their statements. Through the practice of 'Active Listening' and developing a deeper understanding of stakeholders intent, the Scrum Team can improve and provide greater value to the team's customers and stakeholders.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Scrum Master: Career Path or Career Oblivion

What is the career path for a Scrum Master?

That question was raised recently when I was asking people in the Development department if they thought they'd like to be a Scrum Master and whether they would apply for a Scrum Master role. Of course the question and answer related to their specific company but I've heard the same question asked at Agile meetups and Agile conferences. The short answer [to me] is: there's a clear career path for Scrum Masters. The key to this career path is growth.  Let me explain.

Those of you that work in Development are sometimes isolated from the business. This is not an insurmountable problem but let's be honest, work on products occurs in Development and the business of the company occurs in the sales/marketing offices of the various regions. You could think of Development having the intellectual property of the product, the brain, whereas the regional sales/marketing teams (Americas, Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa) form the heart. Neither can survive without the other and both are necessary for growth and vitality. The best scenario is that the brain (Development) and the heart (sales/marketing teams with their customer insights) work together in a seamless, symbiotic relationship. Establishing and maintaining a great communications link, having everyone working from the same page, and working toward a shared product vision are essential ingredients for growth. From a Scrum prospective, the Scrum Masters are the people whose role it is to find a way to make this happen.

In the Scrum Guide, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland imagine a world where the Scrum Masters, get the organization to understand and work with the Scrum Teams by:

  • Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption,
  • Planning Scrum implementations within the organization,
  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development, and
  • Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team.
A Scrum Master will hasten the adoption of Scrum Values (from the Scrum Alliance
  • Focus - Because we focus on only a few things at a time, we work well together and produce excellent work. We deliver valuable items sooner. 
  • Courage - Because we work as a team, we feel supported and have more resources at our disposal. This gives us the courage to undertake greater challenges. 
  • Openness - As we work together, we express how we're doing, what's in our way, and our concerns so they can be addressed.
  • Commitment - Because we have great control over our own destiny, we are more committed to success.
  • Respect - As we work together, sharing successes and failures, we come to respect each other and to help each other become worthy of respect.

But how does this lead to a career path?

By improving lines of communications, by getting those in direct contact with customers communicating the pain customers feel, by getting the product development teams to have empathy with the customer, by understanding the impact of technical solutions on the customers, by keeping all aspects of the business informed of customer problems and potential solutions, by being transparent, by continually striving to improve, by creating a culture where learning trumps blame, by creating a culture where the question is not, "what have you done?" but instead, "how can I help you?", by doing all these and more, the Scrum Master will create the opportunity for the company to experience unprecedented growth. And when you have growth, you create more jobs and a larger product base and with that comes the need for more sales people, more marketers, more product managers, more products, more projects, and more Scrum Teams. I should say that Scrum Masters are almost never ever directly responsible for a company's growth. However, through the actions of the Scrum Master and many of the communication improvements and process streamlining, the inevitable result will most likely be growth.

Scrum Masters typically move into roles like product owner, product manager, head product owner, head of product management, program manager, project director, program director, agile coaching, development manager, technology manager, and others. Most of these roles may not exist today but with growth and expansion, some of these roles will come into being.

Whether your company or business has a global footprint or is a young Start-up, Agile and Scrum can be tools for growth and the Scrum Master role is positioned so that the results of good Scrum Mastery is company growth. Once there's growth, there almost always follows more and greater opportunities. Who is better positioned to move up and forward than the Scrum Master?

Your thoughts?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Organizational Adoption of Agile

From Craig Larman - Larman's laws of organizational behaviour:
1.       Organizations are implicitly optimized to avoid changing the status quo middle- and first-level manager and "specialist" positions & power structures
2.       As a corollary to (1), any change initiative will be reduced to overloading the new terminology to mean basically the same as status quo
3.       As a corollary to (1), any significant change initiative will be derided as "purist" and "needing customization for local concerns" -- which deflects from addressing weaknesses and manager/specialist status quo
4.       Culture follows structure.
i.e., if you want to really change culture, you have to start with changing structure, because culture does not really change otherwise. and that's why deep systems of thought such as organizational learning are not very sticky or impactful by themselves, and why systems such as scrum (that have a strong focus on structural change at the start) tend to more quickly impact culture. John Seddon also observed this: "Attempting to change an organization's culture is a folly, it always fails. Peoples' behaviour (the culture) is a product of the system; when you change the system peoples' behaviour changes."
I think that those who believe Agile and Scrum are the way forward will be at odds with most businesses that have a deep institutionalized Command & Control structures that rests responsibility, but usually not accountability, within groups/committees while diverting responsibility away from individuals. In Scrum we rest most responsibility on the Product Owner and hold this person accountable for the business value delivered at the end of each and every sprint. It is often this simplicity Scrum provides that is in direct conflict with the ‘status quo’. So how to begin changes to the existing structures?
First and foremost, you must have an Executive Sponsor. Without Executive Sponsorship your attempt to directly adopt Agile will almost certainly fail. This is more than just having managers that agree to allow you to use Agile; this is a person who has the rank and status in the business structure who can influence the often many groups/committees who collectively and traditionally have controlled projects.  Agile is a movement that requires top-down leadership to say ‘this is going to happen, here is why it is good and we should all start rowing in that direction.’ The Executive Sponsor, along with possibly one or more Agile Coach specifically trained and experienced in agile adoption at the executive level, will be handing out the oars.
What if you have no Executive Sponsor or the Executive Sponsor’s influence is severely limited? Under these circumstances, full Agile adoption is very unlikely to happen. However, there is a strategy that could overcome the tremendous obstacles that are in the way but it does depend on you finding some in Mid to Upper level Management more interested in results rather than institutionalized processes. The ultimate result is usually a hybrid adoption of Agile where all or some of the institutional controls remain in place but an Agile sanctuary is carved out with fewer of these institutional controls than a traditional waterfall project. This hybrid Agile project is not truly Agile but neither is it true waterfall. The strategy follows a bottom up Agile Adoption approach that will take time, maybe a lot of time, to slowly chip away at the traditional structure and replace it with an Agile structure and Agile mindset.
The strategy is twofold:
1.       Target getting support from managers in the organization that are more likely to support Agile; and
2.       Target going around the organizational structure of “over seers”
The strategy includes targeting those executives in middle to upper management that are more likely to support an Agile process and have some influence on those in the organization who are stanch supporters of the institutional controls. The idea here is not to change these people completely over to the Agile mindset but rather get these targeted managers enthusiastic enough about Agile so they can see the possibilities and potential of Agile. Targeting managers who don’t have influence over supporters of the processes or targeting managers who are the stanch supporters of the processes is usually a tactical mistake. Targeting a manager who doesn’t directly influence those in control of the processes might be an easy convert but other than a quick burst of satisfaction, the real battles will still lie ahead. The manager who is a supporter of institutionalized processes is very difficult to convert; they probably believe in their familiar processes and controls much like you believe in Scrum, albeit for different reasons. A word of caution, because you’ve gotten some support for your Agile project, you must remember that “success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.” For those in middle to upper management who supported you earlier, to ensure their continued support of Agile and endorse its use, hybrid Agile projects must succeed and succeed “loudly”. If your project fails or succeeds but with only a whimper, some, most, or all middle to upper manages may forget that they ever supported Agile.
The second part of your Agile adoption strategy will be to identify all those organizational groups and individuals who traditionally sign-off on projects and find a way to exempt the Scrum project from these. These groups are those who sit on gate committees, steering committees, technology committees, or any one of a dozen other committees that approve, sign-off or use other mechanisms of “over-seeing” a project. These groups are often a source of power and prestige for its members and are traditionally very difficult, if not impossible, to get around without an appropriately positioned Executive Sponsor. The best way to get around these groups is to make your project a separate business unit that answers to the CEO/board. This follows along how IBM built its PC division in order to get out from under the bureaucratic thumb of IBM’s corporate structure.  Another tactic is to chip away at the required process these groups require projects to follow. This can lead to some relief for the project but will probably not succeed at allowing full Agile adoption for quite some time.
Is doing a Hybrid Agile Scrum adoption good? The short answer is yes. By simply following the activities defined for Scrum, (Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective), Jeff Sutherland has said that this will increase productivity by 20%-30%. However, the greater benefits of Agile are really attained through following of and embracing the deeper meanings of the Agile Manifesto, the Scrum Guide, and Scrum Primer. To become “hyper-product” would require everyone involved in the project (managers and scrum teams) to believe in and live Agile and Scrum. Unless the Mid to Upper level Managers of the business are only interested in results and don’t really care how you achieve them, your best approach to adopting Agile is incrementally, one step at a time.
Craig Larman is co-author of:
  • Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Large, Multisite & Offshore Product Development with Large-Scale Scrum
  • Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum
  • Agile and Iterative Development: A Manager's Guide

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sprint Review Facilitation & Customization

The Scrum Sprint Review is a key Inspect & Adapt meeting where the Scrum Team discusses with Users, Customers, and Business stakeholders what was "Done" in the just completed Sprint. The Sprint Review meeting is short but must cover the agenda items listed below. The attendance by the Scrum Team is required. Attendance by stakeholders is optional but should be strongly encouraged for those key stakeholders most affected by the Sprint results. This article gives some advice on how to conduct the Sprint Review when stakeholders are unable to physically be present.
During the Sprint Review, the Scrum Team and stakeholders collaborate about what was done in the Sprint and the Product Backlog is amended if needed. Based on that and any changes to the Product Backlog during the Sprint, attendees collaborate on the next things that could be done. The Product Owner provides the stakeholders the likely completion date for the release based on the Development Team's velocity and work remaining in the Product Backlog. This is an informal meeting, and the presentation of the Sprint results is intended to elicit feedback and foster collaboration.
One hour Sprint Review Agenda includes the following elements:
  • The Product Owner identifies what has been “Done” and what has not been “Done” (suggest 5 minutes)   
  • The Development Team discusses what went well during the Sprint, what problems it ran into, and how those problems were solved  (suggest 10 minutes)
  • The Development Team demonstrates the work that it has “Done” and answers questions about the Increment  (suggest 15 minutes)
  • The Product Owner discusses the Product Backlog as it stands. He or she projects likely completion dates based on progress to date  (suggest 10 minutes)
  • The entire group collaborates on what to do next, so that the Sprint Review provides valuable input to subsequent Sprint Planning Meetings  (suggest 20 minutes)
The feedback from the stakeholders, directed toward the Product Owner and Scrum team, is the most important thing to get out of the Sprint Review. The result of the Sprint Review is a revised Product Backlog that defines the probable Product Backlog items for the next Sprint. The Product Backlog may also be adjusted overall to meet new opportunities.

Customization for Stakeholders who cannot be physically present at the meeting

A Scrum Team strives to ensure the key stakeholders, as identified by the Product Owner, are in attendance at each Sprint Review. The key stakeholders identified may differ from Sprint to Sprint based upon the work selected in each Sprint, but it is important to the success of the project that those identified feel compelled to attend the Sprint Review when asked. When a stakeholder cannot be physically present at the Sprint Review meeting, the Scrum Team loses out on viewing subtle hints on the reception of their Sprint results and future Sprint plans. Stakeholder body language and tone are indispensable clues to the observant Scrum Team which can be lost when stakeholders are not with the team during the Sprint Review. Unfortunately the realities of the business means that stakeholders are distributed across several locations and cannot always be physically present at the Sprint Review. Below are the options in order of preference.


Telepresence is the preferred method for stakeholder involvement in the Sprint Review when not able to physically attend. Scrum Master would schedule the telepresence rooms locally and at all remote locations if possible. The Sprint Review meeting should be conducted as if all people were in the same room.
      • Stakeholder sees what those present in the meeting room see
      • Stakeholder is not a disembodied voice but a real person
      • Scrum Team and other meeting attendees can see and gage stakeholder's reactions to product demo and artifacts
      • Scrum Team and other meeting attendees can see and gage stakeholder's reaction to comments, statements, and suggestions
      • Facilitator of the Sprint Review can better steer the Sprint Review back to the Sprint Review agenda when necessary
      • Difficult to overhear side conversations from remote stakeholders

Webex / LiveMeeting / Net Meeting / or other online collaboration tool:

Online collaboration tool is the preferred method for stakeholder involvement in the Sprint Review when not able to physically attend and access to a telepresence room isn't available.
Product Owner should specifically ask remote stakeholders for their input on the way forward for improving the product.

      • Stakeholder most often see what those present in the meeting room see
      • Stakeholders can follow and participate in discussions on the just completed work shown in the demonstration

      • All stakeholders will need the same online collaboration tool installed and available
      • Higher likelihood that remote stakeholders will talk over people in the meeting room
      • Higher likelihood that people in the meeting room will talk over the remote stakeholders
      • Easier to mis-read voice inflection and tone without seeing the body language
      • Difficult to overhear side conversations


Using only a speakerphone (no video link or web sharing) is the last option available for stakeholders who don't have access to collaboration tools and no access to telepresence equipment.
To give the stakeholder a voice in the Sprint Review, the Scrum Master or Product Owner, as appropriate, would ask those who are remote to provide their input before the Sprint Review meeting so the Scrum Team and stakeholders at the meeting can review their input together. This way the remote teams know that their input counts and will heard by all people in the room.
Product Owner should specifically ask remote stakeholders for their input on the way forward for improving the product.
      • Remote stakeholders have a proxy voice in the Sprint Review

      • Speakerphone stakeholders will not see what's being presented
      • Speakerphone stakeholders will find it difficult/impossible to follow discussions during the product demo and presentation of any related artifacts
      • Speakerphone stakeholders may find it difficult to collaborate with those in the meeting room without seeing the Sprint results
      • Higher likelihood that remote stakeholders will talk over people in the meeting room
      • Higher likelihood that people in the meeting room will talk over the remote stakeholders
      • Easier to mis-read voice inflection and tone without seeing the body language
      • Difficult to overhear side conversations

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Developing a Sprint Goal

The sprint goal is used to help focus the Scrum Team on the objectives of the sprint, the higher purpose of why the sprint is necessary. The Scrum Guide has this to say about creating a sprint goal:

"After the Development Team forecasts the Product Backlog items it will deliver in the Sprint, the Scrum Team crafts a Sprint Goal. The Sprint Goal is an objective that will be met within the Sprint through the implementation of the Product Backlog, and it provides guidance to the Development Team on why it is building the Increment.

By the end of the Sprint Planning Meeting, the Development Team should be able to explain to the Product Owner and Scrum Master how it intends to work as a self-organizing team to accomplish the Sprint Goal and create the anticipated Increment."

My team's Sprint Goal was, at times, essentially a summation of the user stories but the better Sprint Goals in my mind were those that served as a milestone for the development team, the customers, the business, or any combination of these. For example a Sprint Goal for the first sprint of a newly formed Scrum Team might be, "Show that we can add value to the customer using scrum." To achieve this goal the team would need to complete at least one story. You'll note that this Sprint Goal has two parts: one part is about adding value for the customer and the second part is about the Scrum Team realizing their own potential to deliver value using scrum.

In order to keep the development team motivated throughout the sprint,  I would suggest helping the team find a higher purpose and develop a metaphor to describe that purpose. Look for the benefit or who benefits from the sprint and coach the team to use this information in crafting their Sprint Goal.

During the daily scrum, I would ask the development team if any impediments might put achieving the Sprint Goal at risk. I would discontinue this once the development team themselves began alluding to the Sprint Goal in the daily scrum as they planned the day’s activities. My intent was to re-enforce the Sprint Goal as the primary focus rather than the stories, which served as a means to achieving the Sprint Goal.

The Sprint Goal and Shorter Sprints

If the sprint length is short, one or two weeks, then the Sprint Goal might not have the bite or grab the imagination as firmly as when sprints are longer. It could be that by the time the Scrum Team fully embraces the Sprint Goal, the sprint is over. The probable issue here is two-fold: 1), the development team, being technical in nature, will tend to associate themselves with the work rather than the reasons for that work, and 2), the Scrum Team may not be spending a lot of time developing the Sprint Goal for shorter sprints thinking time is at a premium.

As scrum master, you can encourage the Scrum Team to think about the bigger picture and understand the benefits and who benefits from the forthcoming sprint. The length of the sprint fades into the background as the team concentrates on these benefits. The amount of time taken to develop the Sprint Goal is rewarded by the development team gaining insight to the customer's, end user's, or business's needs, and satisfying these needs or moving toward the satisfaction of these needs is the real intent of the sprint.

Technical Sprint Goal

When the Scrum Team first formed up, Sprint Goals tended to be a reflection of the specific stories in the sprint, that is, they tended to focus on the technical nature of the sprint rather than the beneficiaries. This is most probably due to the former way software development was run using waterfall techniques. In a waterfall environment, the development team was not always privy to the reasons behind the requirements and the product owner, often a former BA, product manager, or project manager, hasn't yet learned the benefits of having development team understand the driving force or purpose behind the requirements.

In this scenario the product is the principal beneficiary of the effort rather than any customer, user, or business. The scrum master needs to show the product owner, and quite probably the business, that having the development team involved with the customers, end users, and the business is necessary to getting a better product, increasing the number of customers, and growing the business. The development team needs to understand the customer, end user, and business so better for them to put themselves in their position and visualize the customers', end users', and business's point of view.

Unfocused Sprint

Sometimes the product owner has prioritized the product backlog to do several features or functions at the same time rather than concentrating on one at a time. This probably is another throw-back to the waterfall days when all developers were kept busy on several aspects of the project at the same time. The result is that everything is "in progress" but nothing is "done".
There are a couple of reasons that this approach can be considered flawed. The first is this kind of approach can be construed as going against the agile principle, "Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software." By working several features at the same time over several sprints, the team runs the risk of not delivering value at the end of each sprint. A customer may not be particularly thrilled being at sprint review after sprint review without seeing a completed feature.
The second potential flaw is the lack of flexibility to release early with only a partial set of planned functionality completed. For example, if a planned release has 5 new features, it's entirely possible for the business to release the product with only 3 of these completed if it can be determined that the product in its current state achieves "product/market fit." In other words, the cost of completing the remaining 2 features is greater than the perceived value of the product if these 2 were completed. If the product owner elects to do all 5 features in parallel, then the opportunity to release early, and begin generating revenue sooner, is lost.

Not Meeting the Sprint Goal

The Scrum Guide states that if the Sprint Goal becomes "obsolete", then the product owner may cancel the sprint. Since this implies a sudden, massive shift away from the perceived business value of the work in the sprint, this will be a very rare occurrence.
It's entirely possible for a development team to not meet the Sprint Goal but this doesn't mean the team has failed or that the sprint should be cancelled. What this most likely means is an unknown factor has made itself apparent during the sprint causing a slow-down of progress or a change in direction regarding design or technology. Not meeting the Sprint Goal is something that happens to all Scrum Teams and shouldn't be taken as a personal team failure but rather as a call to understand the root causes and correct them. Usually missing a Sprint Goal is due to an insufficient understanding of the work pulled into the sprint or, with less experienced Scrum Teams, over-committing and taking on more work than the team can handle.


Select a Sprint Goal that focuses on the beneficiaries of the sprint using the work as a guide. As a team, try to develop a metaphor to describe what the objective of the sprint is. Avoid the temptation to develop a Sprint Goal that reflects the work, i.e. product, over the beneficiaries.

With shorter sprints the Sprint Goal may not have enough impact on the team. The team should spend the time necessary to develop a Sprint Goal that adds meaning to the sprint even if the sprint is one week long. All sprints, regardless of length, should add value to the customer, end user, or business and the work in the sprint is a means toward achieving this value.

Try and keep a tight focus on the sprint and Sprint Goal. Working one feature at a time can get value to the customer quicker than working several features at once. It is better to have one feature "done" than to have several features "in progress" at the end of the sprint.

Do not get overly anxious if the Sprint Goal will be or is missed and don't be tempted to abort the sprint because of it. Use the sprint retrospective to analyse the root causes and make the appropriate corrections for the next sprint.