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What Are You Sprinting Toward?

May 7, 2013

They knew all eyes would be watching them. They knew huge crowds would be in attendance. And they knew some of those attending were there to cause trouble. Facing this, the Tampa police had an interesting objective for the week of the Republican National Convention. You might expect an objective like “Keep the peace.” Or “Do what it takes to control the crowds.” Or some other stereotypical statement. But no. Their stated objective was that they did not want to see the police on the nightly news.

Quite an unusual objective than would be expected. It did restrict the police in some ways, but still allowed them to carry out their mission while keeping the department’s overall objective in mind. The results: The convention was peaceful, protesters had their say without violent crowds rampaging in the streets, and you didn’t see the police cast in a bad light on the nightly news, if you saw them at all.

Do your sprints have meaningful objectives? Or do you think that is not important?

Objectives keep the team focused on what is important; what you want to achieve overall vs. just delivering the stories in the sprint. They also help eliminate the unwanted results (e.g. seeing film of police in riot gear hosing down the crowds with water cannons).

Unfortunately, instead of thinking through a good objective for their sprints, many teams just work bottom up. They pick their sprint stories and just use a summary of those as the sprint objective(s). This approach is not effective. It boils down to “Do your job” as an objective. It provides no guidance at all as to “how” or with what considerations the work is to be done. For example, the police could have showed up in full riot gear, with water cannons in visible locations, lined up in high numbers around the protestors, with paddy wagons at the ready. But that would likely have guaranteed high visibility news footage, and not in a good light.

There is also a psychological side to having objectives. To reframe a well-known motivational story, what is more satisfying: “I laid ten rows of brick today” or “I finished a cathedral today”? Just finishing your task list for today is good but it rarely gets you energized for tomorrow. But finishing a customer objective (i.e. the cathedral)…now that is something else.

If you are doing sprints or releases without having meaningful objective(s) you are depriving yourself of a simple technique to keep the team focused on the outcome desired and cheating your team out of well-earned celebration of their achievements.

(Read More at https://www.ProjectPragmatics.com)

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One comment

  1. Good post!



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