What to do when there's not enough work related to the Sprint Goal?



  • We have enough work to do to fill two weeks (our Sprint length) for the Team.

    We have a Sprint Goal.

    We do not have enough work to do for the Sprint Goal to fill two weeks for the Team.


    As a result, we end up with one person working towards the Sprint Goal and the rest of the Team working on less-important, unrelated tasks.

    I'm unsure what the best way forward is, here. Things I've considered:

    1. Status quo. Problem: The Sprint Goal is a minority of the work being done during the Sprint. While this doesn't cause any outright fires, it's not optimal.
    2. Change the Goal to be more encompassing. Problem: The Goal also becomes more vague. I want to avoid "Complete Stories A, B, D, and F" as a Sprint Goal.
    3. Swarm. Problem: It's often not feasible to have our entire Dev Team (of 4 people) focus on a relatively small piece of work. We get more done by having some people focus on lower-priority Stories.

    Is there a solution/approach I'm not seeing? Or a problem I'm misconstruing?



  • The Sprint Goal is a focusing tool for the Development Team. It is not necessary for all work selected for a Sprint to be aligned with the Sprint Goal. In fact, I usually recommend that the Sprint Goal should be something that can be met through the completion of at most about 60-70% of the Product Backlog Items selected for the Sprint. If the Development Team is aware of what work is directly supporting the Sprint Goal and what work isn't, it gives them flexibility to self-organize and self-manage toward achieving the goal. If things come up and the effort to do the work that is aligned with the Sprint Goal ends up being more than expected, there's a little bit of buffer room and the team knows what work is most important to focus on.

    The only concerning thing here is that one person is working toward the Sprint Goal. This seems like people are siloed, rather than working collaboratively. There's insufficient information in the question around this, but if I was working with the team, it would be something that I would probe around.


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