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Driving Value with Sprint Goals


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Jurgen Appelo xvii
Foreword by Janna Bastow xix
Introduction xxi
Acknowledgments xxv
About the Author xxvii

Part I: Why Goals Matter 1

Chapter 1: Imperfect Plans, Flawed Execution, and Unpredictable Results 3
Dealing with the "Fog of Beforehand" One Step at a Time 4
Facing the Unknown in Software Development 6
How the Agile Manifesto Covers Common Anti-Patterns for Dealing with Friction 15
Key Takeaways 16

Chapter 2: More Friction, More Surprises 19
The Cynefin Model: Being Aware of Your Situation 20
Key Takeaways 32

Chapter 3: Countering Friction by Leading with Intent 33
The Tragedy of Following the Plan and the Resulting Transformation of the Prussian and German Army 34
Auftragstaktik: Obeying Intent Rather Than Blindly Following Orders 35
Closing the Three Gaps by Leading with Intent 36
Turn the Ship Around: Intent-Based Leadership on a Submarine 38
Key Takeaways 41

Chapter 4: Tales of Opposing Goals 43
Why Do Common Goals Matter? 43
Working Together with Opposing Goals 44
Surviving in Roadmap Hell 46
How Do Common Goals Enable Teamwork? 48
Key Takeaways 49
Part I Overall Takeaways 49

Part II: Sprint Goals Are the Beating Heart of Scrum 51

Chapter 5: A Featherlight Introduction to Scrum 53
Scrum: Sprinting One Step at a Time53
The Sprint Contains All Scrum Events 55
Scrum Deals with Friction Through Feedback Loops 61
Key Takeaways 64

Chapter 6: The Fundamental Role of Sprint Goals in Scrum 67
The Essence of Scrum: Sprint with a Goal 67
What Are the Scrum Artifacts Together with Their Commitments? 71
How Do Product Goals Fit In? 72
How Does Scrum Help with Countering Friction and Dealing with Surprises? 74
Key Takeaways 76

Chapter 7: What Happens When You Don't Use Sprint Goals? 77
Sprint Loses Its Purpose and the Sprint Backlog Becomes the Goal 77
Following the Plan Becomes More Important Than Meeting the Objective 78
Everything in the Sprint Becomes Equally Important 79
Working Without Sprint Goals Leads to Technical Debt 79
No Control Over What Gets Finished 80
Key Takeaways 81

Chapter 8: Two Very Different Versions of Scrum 83
Why Do Many People Believe Scrum Isn't Agile? 84
Anaconda-Style Scrum and Hummingbird-Style Scrum in Practice 86
Key Takeaways 92
Part II Overall Takeaways 92

Part III: Driving Value with Sprint Goals 95

Chapter 9: Creating Sprint Goals 97
What Is a Sprint Goal? 97
Crafting Sprint Goals with the FOCUS Mnemonic 98
Key Takeaways 102

Chapter 10: Sprint Goals in Practice at the Scrum Events 103
Why Should You Start Discussing the Sprint Goal at the Sprint Review? 103
Crafting a Sprint Goal During Sprint Planning 106
Why You Shouldn't Plan Your Sprint at Full Capacity 107
Creating a Sprint Goal Without a Refined Product Backlog 111
The Sprint Goal at the Daily Scrum 112
The Sprint Goal at the Sprint Review113
The Sprint Goal at the Sprint Retrospective 114
Key Takeaways 115

Chapter 11: More Features, More Value? 117
How Does Our Product Deliver Value? 117
Selling Rocks as Pets 119
The Cookie Store That Was Guaranteed to Fail 119
Value Is Multifaceted and a Matter of Perspective 120
Value Is a Tricky Subject 121
Building a Product Starts with Listening 122
The Three Types of Uncertainty 123
The Cobra Effect: When Exterminating Cobras Causes a Cobra Population Boom 124
Having Outputs Drive the Right Outcomes 125
Meeting Aggressive Timelines Is Often the Biggest Enemy of Delivering Value 126
Focusing on Meeting Specifications Limits You to Beforehand Knowledge 127
Why You Should Stop Obsessing Over Your Velocity 128
All Features Are Innocent of Delivering Value Until Proven Guilty 128
Output Focus: People Don't Want a Quarter-Inch Drill 129
Key Takeaways 130

Chapter 12: Driving Outcomes with Outputs 131
Having Only Features on Your Product Backlog Is Not Good Enough 131
A Single Metric to Rule Them All? 132
Why Should Your Product Backlog Be Short? 136
Don't Waste Too Much Time on "A Priori" Prioritization 137
Key Takeaways 139

Chapter 13: Product Vision: A Purposeful Direction for Your Product 141
Dispelling the Mystery of a Product Vision 141
The Lab Mouse Meant for Bigger Things 143
The Swiss Aerodynamics Engineer Who Married an Italian Woman 144
Key Takeaways 146

Chapter 14: Product Strategy 147
Strategy Means Striking at Weakness 148
Strategy Is Designing a Way to Deal with a Challenge 149
Key Takeaways 151
Part III Overall Takeaways 152

Part IV: Overcoming Common Sprint Goal Obstacles 155

Chapter 15: Scrum Anti-Patterns That Amplify Friction and Surprises 157
Spikes for Everything: Knowledge Gap 158
Christmas Wish List Backlog: Knowledge Gap 160
Groundhog Day Refinement: Knowledge Gap 161
Eternal Sprint Planning: Knowledge and Alignment Gaps 162
Interruption Planning: Alignment Gap 163
Definition of Ready: Knowledge and Effects Gaps 163
Fixating on Pretty Burn-Down Charts: Knowledge, Alignment, and Effects Gaps 164
Embrace Not Knowing and Act in the Moment 165
Key Takeaways 166

Chapter 16: Dealing with Common Sprint Goal Obstacles 167
Too Many Competing Priorities 167
Impossible to Set a Single Sprint Goal 169
The Sprint Backlog Is the Goal 169
The Sprint Goal as an Afterthought 170
Sprint Goals Tied to the Solution Direction 171
The Product Owner Decides the Sprint Goal 171
Too Many Dependencies on Other Teams 172
The Team Is Scared to Commit to a Sprint Goal 174
Too Much WIP (Work in Progress) 175
Opposing Goals Between Teams 176
Management Love for the Feature Factory 177
OKR-Induced Friction 178
Key Takeaways 180

Chapter 17: From Stakeholder Management to Stakeholder Inclusion 181
Working in a State of Perpetual Displeasure 182
Why Should You Include Your Stakeholders? 185
How Do You Include Your Stakeholders? 186
Dealing with Stakeholders Means Controlling Your Emotions 187
Key Takeaways 188

Chapter 18: Scaling Scrum Without Frameworks 191
Why Your Development Team Structure Might Be Slowing You Down 191
Fix Your Problems: Do Not Expect That from a Scaling Framework 193
Why Do Scaling Issues Happen? 195
What to Do Instead of Defaulting to a Scaling Framework 197
Key Takeaways 201

Chapter 19: Empowering Teams to Discover Better Ways of Delivering Value 203
Making Music Without Making a Sound 203
It All Starts with Addressing Beliefs 206
Trying Things Out Requires Psychological Safety 207
What Does an Empowered Scrum Team Look Like? 208
How Do You Provide Sufficient Direction and Context? 209
Create a Model for How Your Product Delivers Value 210
Discovery, Delivery, and Validation 210
Scrum Is About Discovering Better Ways of Delivering Value 212

Index 217

About the Author

Maarten Dalmijn is a consultant, speaker and trainer at Dalmijn Consulting. Maarten helps teams to beat the feature factory all over the world. Millions of practitioners have read his best-practice articles on Agile, Scrum, and Product Management. He specializes in helping companies to build empowered teams that can discover better ways of delivering value. Maarten is a frequent speaker at Fortune 500 companies, government organizations and international industry conferences. He has worked with many award-winning start-ups and scale-ups. Maarten is an ambassador and editor at Serious Scrum, the largest Scrum publication on Medium.


"Maarten masterfully bridges the gap between Scrum and product management. If you want to create products that truly make a difference, you need to read this book."
--Pawel Huryn, Author, Product Coach "It is not just a book on Sprint Goals. It's an essential read for all those who work in a complex environment and try to make sense of things. "Maarten not only writes about Sprint Goals, but he also explains the hardest part of agile--what agile mindset means. This book will lead you to experience many breakthroughs. From what Scrum really is about, through why copy-pasting a scaling framework is not a recipe for success, to the biggest of them all--a breakthrough from a project-driven mentality to an agile one."
--Maria Chec, Head of Agile Practice and Creator at Agile State of Mind "Maarten's relentless focus on value delivery instead of mechanically churning out new features is a breath of fresh air. This book will help you to up your game, align around value, and use the power of sprint goals to build great products."
--Chris Stone, The Virtual Agile Coach "This book is a must-read if you want to understand Scrum's essence and empower your team. Instead of covering how to do Scrum right, Maarten shows you how to leverage the framework to deliver value. Intertwined with personal stories and history lessons, you'll find concrete examples, models, and practical advice to help you build empowered teams that deliver the desired outcomes."
--Jenny Herald, VP of Evangelism at Quantive and host of the Dreams with Deadlines podcast "Starting with some schoolchildren dropped in the dark on an island who manage to find their way back, the author explains in a down-to-earth way how breaking projects down into sprints helps us to overcome the universal problem of friction. The book brings insights to daily practice in a clear, simple, and engaging way."
--Stephen Bungay, author of The Art of Action "I don't think there is anything like it in the area of Scrum. It reads like a novel and is stuffed full of brilliant ideas and insights. Maarten has a knack for illustrating complex concepts with inspiring examples completely unrelated to Scrum and Agile. This book will change the way you think about Scrum and Agile. I would recommend it to anyone remotely interested in a new way of working!"
--Erik de Bos, writer of the Agile Thoughts newsletter "'Sprint Goals are the beating heart of Scrum,' writes Maarten Dalmijn, and this couldn't be truer. Without them, Scrum falls apart. Unfortunately, we know from scientific research that many Scrum teams don't use Sprint Goals or struggle greatly with them. This book makes a powerful argument for why Scrum teams need Sprint Goals and offers invaluable anecdotes, practical tips, and guidelines to help you get started right away."
--Christiaan Verwijs, author of the Zombie Scrum Survival Guide, co-founder of The Liberators, and Professional Scrum Trainer at Scrum.org "If you're looking for a Sprint Goal-writing recipe book to blindly follow, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for an engaging tour of ideas, which helps you discover the ecosystem to create meaningful goals, you'd be wise to read this book."
--Jem Jelly, Certified Scrum Trainer & Consultant

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