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Collective intelligence to serve a product goal

Sogeti Labs
February 25, 2021

In November 2020, a new scrum guide has been proposed. The mean pillars of agility remain the same, but the guide evolves to take in account the notion of product goal and enhance advices on multiple scrum teams working together on a product. We can speak about a product-centricity philosophy. 

The new guide keeps the principle values that consist in agreed goals implementing the empirical scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Lean thinking reduces waste and focuses on the essentials.

Two notions will evolve in parallel the sprint goal and the product goal. These two goals create coherence and focus, encouraging the Scrum Team to work together

The Product backlog artifact is the Product goal. Product Goal is the long-term objective.

This product goal is a measurable achievement and sum up the backlog contain to the scrum team and stakeholders. During refinement of items the product goal will be the target.

The Product goal is not fixed and can evolve with experience return along the different sprints. Like that it helps in transparency and is a new element for team spirit to work all together on the same objective. The team get stronger because they know why they are working and where to go to maximize the value taking the best decisions.

This new artifact contributes on the inspection and adaptation helping for evaluating the increment during the sprint review. Scrum events are the same with the same time-box. Ceremonies are essential for transparence but not as a finality for example the Sprint Review should never be considered a gate to releasing value, an increment may be delivered before the end of the sprint

Scrum is still a framework with liberty, and nothing forbid the use of a global vision complementary of scrum use and the use of the product goal.

The inspiring product goal is driven by the product owner and understood by all. The creation of this goal will take probably several sprints and will not change during a sprint but will change depending on the context, market, technology and a product goal can be achieved on a year or on few sprints for example. There is no prescription or obligation on the duration of the product goal except the fact that a new product goal have to be declared when the precedent have been achieved like a succession of the sprints, a new one starts at the end of the last sprint.

Sometimes during a sprint, a sprint goal can be unvalidated and exceptionally the product goal can be no more relevant. In that cases the scrum guide let the teams choose the good strategy and action plan analyzing the situation.

The Scrum philosophy doesn’t change, teams are self-organized, and this model optimize the flexibility, creativity to identify what is better to maximize the product value and so adapt the product goal. The product owner is in charge of a unique product goal on a unique product backlog addressing the product.

Therefore this sprint goal and product goal help to have a team spirit with common commitments. It would be unappropriated to speak about a team without common objectives. Without these commitments it would be difficult to achieve a result.

Furthermore, this new artifact described in the scrum guide edited in November 2020 allow a better synchronization with the business strategy.

If different teams are working on a same product this product goal helps having a common direction.

To conclude, the new scrum guide reinforces the product and the team self-organization to achieve goals collectively.

About the author

SogetiLabs gathers distinguished technology leaders from around the Sogeti world. It is an initiative explaining not how IT works, but what IT means for business.


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