Updated: Mar 3
One of the essential activities of the sprint-planning meeting is defining the sprint goal. As an Agile consultant, I have seen that although teams understand its importance, they often ignore it and fail to determine the real goal for their sprints.
I started to do with my teams to come to the planning sessions and when the whole team is focused on task breakdowns and estimations. I stop the work and ask this simple question "Can anyone tell me what the goal of the sprint is?" It still amazes me that I always get the same response: silence and blank faces. Moreover, the Product Owner usually seems quite uncomfortable in their seat.
I have seen many a PO pay little attention to setting the sprint goal. Some ignore it and think the goal is reflected in the user stories added to the sprint backlog (although it’s not). The Product Owner must explicitly describe the sprint goal at the beginning of the meeting because it answers the fundamental questions of "What do we need to achieve this sprint?" and "Why do we need to do it?"
Another common situation I have observed is where the PO shares the sprint goal, and the team continues to ignore it. They want to start estimating and adding their tasks. The penny usually drops during the sprint when a team member raises the question: "Why am I working on this story?”
This is where the importance of the sprint goal becomes fundamental. It provides the team with an understanding of the reasons for the story and its benefit to the project's overall goal.