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Creating a Sprint Goal

It's time! A new sprint is about to begin! You want to create a sprint goal that will help your scrum team during your upcoming sprint, but your agile team is buzzing with new ideas. Sounds like your team needs to focus on your game plan...which is why we created the Sprint Goal template to help your team run an effective sprint planning session focused on team collaboration and creating a common goal.

Use a Sprint Goal retro template when you want to....

Create focused goals before future sprints

Preparing the Sprint Goal Retrospective

This effective retrospective technique should help your scrum team answer a few different questions in your next sprint planning meeting: what do we want to improve upon in the current sprint? what obstacles do we want to overcome? what assets are available to us? Getting to the root of all these questions should help the entire scrum team brainstorm a new goal.

Setting the Stage

Good news: getting started is easy! Just select the Sprint Goal Template from the techniques listed in Retrium's retrospective exercises toolbox. Next, get your team ready for a successful sprint retrospective by briefly sharing your expectations and ground rules for the retrospective meeting. Also, make sure to clearly define the four columns:

  • Increasing Value
  • What changes would help the team increase the product's value in upcoming sprints? 
  • Helpers
  • What strengths and assets does the team have that the team can best utilize?
  • Blockers
  • What obstacles and weaknesses are preventing the team from achieving its product goal?
  • Proposed Goals
  • What goals and ideas can the team start working on?

    Make sure the entire team has a shared definition of the four columns and what they represent. Once everyone feels comfortable with the procedure, it's time to move forward! Depending on the size of your individual team, setting a timer - or timeboxing - can help keep the meeting on schedule and moving forward. Most teams are able to create valuable sprint goals in about 30-60 minutes, as a rule of thumb.


    Ask your team to think about the previous sprint and create individual notes for each column. Create a 10-minute timebox for participants to brainstorm and add their ideas. Facilitators may choose to keep initial notes anonymous to promote psychological safety, or they may choose to show these notes to help the team generate ideas. When the timebox ends, the participants should finish adding their ideas to each column.


    This next step helps the team find common themes in the ideas they generated and focus the upcoming discussion on the big ideas on everyone's mind. Did several people have concerns about technical debt affecting product quality? Keep all those notes together under one group. Or if there are 5 notes on product backlog items, for example, you'll most likely want to group those together under the same group to discuss. Announce the timebox (5-10 minutes) and allow participants to collaboratively group the notes on the board.

    Dot Voting

    Sometimes it's obvious what needs to be discussed during your sprint retrospective - like a pain point felt by the development team, or maybe a shared goal of several members of the group. But sometimes it's not so obvious! It can often be challenging to identify the most pressing team issues. If this is the case, the facilitator can use dot voting to prioritize the discussion based on votes cast by the group.


    Now it's time for the best part: discussion! 🎉 If your team used dot voting, then the discussion should begin with the note group that received the most votes. If dot voting was not used, the facilitator can choose the order of discussion. The facilitator can optionally choose to timebox the discussion of each individual idea as well, usually setting aside 5 or 10 minutes for each topic. The advantage of this approach is that it tends to keep the conversation focused and moving at a faster pace. 

    Creating Action-Items

    Of course, an agile retrospective should organize actions that lead to change. The best way to ensure follow-through on ideas discussed during the sprint retrospective is to create and save a list of action items. Creating an action plan of tangible goals on a regular basis will help ensure that the team is on the path of continuous improvement. 😉

    Ready to start creating sprint goals?

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