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The Sprint Goal is an objective set for the Sprint that can be met through the implementation of the Product Backlog. Sprint goals are the result of a negotiation between the Product Owner and the Developer. Sprint Goal should be specific and measurable. While the selected work for the Sprint Backlog represents a forecast, the Developer gives their commitment to achieving the Sprint Goal. It also provides guidance to the Developer on why it is building the Increment for the current Sprint and what value it will deliver back to the Product Owner.
A good Sprint Goal doesn't simply reiterate the top priority Items for the Sprint, a good Sprint Goal would be at a higher level than that, describing the intent behind undertaking the Sprint and should help the team understand the purpose and impact of the work selected.
The Sprint Goal is determined by the Scrum Team - Product Owner, Developer and Scrum Master together during the Sprint planning.
A Sprint Goal promotes Product Backlog cohesion. It provides a focus that helps members of the team to develop features or functionality that work well together. A Sprint Goal helps stakeholders understand the aim of the Sprint. It ensures focused Daily Scrum as the Developer can use it to inspect their progress. It provides guidance to the Developer on why it is building the Increment. Helps setting priorities when the going gets tough. Supports Product Owner to create a product roadmap.
Sprint Goal is very much related to the five Scrum values.
'Commitment' being one of the Scrum values, a Sprint Goal is the objective, which is aimed to be achieved as the Scrum Team's commitment. Without a refined Product Backlog, the Sprint Goal - the commitment of individuals may be in various directions resulting in not able to achieve the Sprint Goal itself. A specific Sprint Goal encourages the team to commit to a specific target, rather than just working randomly. This also gives a team synergy.
A well-structured Sprint Goal helps the Developer to 'Focus' as well - another value of the Scrum framework. Sprint Goal enables a Developer to deflect the distractions towards the Product Owner and move in a well-knit fashion. Lack of focus is going to be a huge impediment to the Scrum Team achieving this each sprint. Focus is essential for a Product Owner to prioritize work from coming from multiple directions.
Courage is required for the Developer to admit they are operating in conditions of uncertainty and that planning, and estimation are imperfect activities. Sometimes the Developer need to say 'no'. A clear Sprint Goal helps the entire team to demonstrate Courage during critical decision-making and it ensures that the Developer is capable enough to take decisions even without the Scrum Master.
A Sprint Goal is equally important to make sure Openness and Respect are promoted. When a Sprint Goal is set, it ensures these two values are promoted and hence bringing the Scrum Team to a common platform. This is even more important as one of the Empirical pillars 'Transparency' comes to life.