A Masterclass on the Product Goal in Scrum 🎯

The Product Goal describes a future state of the product which can serve as a target for the Scrum Team to plan against.” — The Scrum Guide

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by Sjoerd Nijland

This article will help you set Product Goals and measure value through Evidence-Based Management using Scrum. We will cover the following subjects in this article:

  • What qualifies as a Product Goal?
  • Worst-case scenario.
  • Methods and techniques.
  • The Product Goal in context of Scrum Artifacts.
  • How to get started.

Why a Masterclass on Product Goals?

As a Product Owner, you are responsible for “Developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal;” — The Scrum Guide.

As a Scrum Master, one of your responsibilities is to “helping find techniques for effective Product Goal definition” — The Scrum Guide. …

Alice performs her very first Sprint!

In this series, we are mapping the narrative of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Scrum. (go to the first episode)

This series is a part of Medium’s Mad Hatters Mashup Party. Medium and The Public Domains released Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. All images below are by Sir John Tenniel from the 1865 edition, via Wikimedia Commons.

We return to Alice, barely escaping her own pool of tears (previous episode).

It was high time to go, for the pool was getting quite crowded with the birds and animals that had fallen into it: there were a Duck and a Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet, and several other curious creatures. …

Is your organization drowning in its own pool of tears?

Medium and The Public Domains released Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. All images below are by Sir John Tenniel from the 1865 edition, via Wikimedia Commons.

Now that we are Down the Rabbit Hole things are about to get:

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‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); ‘now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye, feet!’

Mastering the art of storytelling

Tragedy is an art form that transcends the pessimism and nihilism of a fundamentally meaningless world. ― Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

I’m passionate about agility and embrace it. I pursue its dream. But I must beware; in dreams loom mirage.

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The Removal of Nuance

‘Agile’ is often defined as a ‘mindset’ which is developed by living a set of values and principles. Yet ‘mindset’ itself is a fickle concept. It’s hard to talk about this without taking into account psyche, personality, and identity. With Agility, many claim the aim is to move away from “think first, then do”. Though that might not be quite right! We weigh in past experiences, the ever-changing environment, and the work-ethics. Agile is a force that changes work cultures and ethics. It impacts people’s lives. …

Mapping Alice’s adventures in Wonderland to Scrum.

Medium and The Public Domains released Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. All images below are by Sir John Tenniel from the 1865 edition, via Wikimedia Commons.

During the Road to Mastery, I often referred to Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. Now it’s time to lay it out in full.

The Scrum Guide is rather bland. It’s not all that great at explaining ‘why’ it reads what it reads. It’s somewhat mystifying. When you go down its rabbit hole, you will do a lot of unlearning. No wonder you’ll end up in wonderland.

Stories are fundamental to how we perceive, think, and act. Our cognitive abilities are nested inside stories. It’s ‘the narrative’ that helps us navigate a complex landscape of values and principles. Scrum needs more than a rulebook. And we can’t drink values and principles from a bottle that reads ‘Drink Me!’. …

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Kill Bill Volume II 2004 Real |Quentin Tarentino, Uma Thurman, David Carradine. Mauritius Images / Collection Christophel / Miramax / A Band Apart

Are you ready to learn Scrum’s Five Point Palm technique? It’s a super-secret mastery technique which is not at all part of Scrum… or is it?

The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique is the deadliest, most fatal blow in all martial arts. In the movie Kill Bill, this move was taught to Beatrix Kiddo by Pai Mei. Pai Mei would also train Elle, an enemy of Beatrix, under the same conditions. Except the latter would murder the master Pai Mei, vengefully failing to endure his path.

“No wonder you can’t do it, you acquiesce to defeat before you even begin”
— Pai…

The art of knowing when to dismount.

There is a delicate balance between agility and commitment to reaching goals.

Commitment can lead to rigidity when the commitment is set to ‘the plan’ or ‘the destination’, instead of ‘the goal’. Alternatively, one may manoeuvre flexibly past various destinations, without ever achieving (or even setting) goals. One might, with dedication and commitment, try out ever new ways without getting anywhere.

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The Fallacy of ‘Pretentiously Succeeding’

In business, when we experiencing difficulty or failure, we tend to attribute it to our efforts, commitment, methods and resources. …

The subtle art of slowing down

Hey man, slow down
Slow down
Idiot, slow down — Radiohead — The Tourist.

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I must be out of my mind when I tell Scrum Teams stuff like:

  • “Let’s take our time…”
  • “Stop being so efficient.”
  • “Can we stop being so busy?”
  • “Relax.”
  • “I know you can do it by yourself, but let’s do it together.”
  • “Forget velocity, focus on flow.
  • “Stop the line.”

To explain why I love teams that slow down, we first have to get on the same page over what efficiency means, cause… boy-oh-boy is that term loaded or what!

What is efficient anyway?

When I ask, I get wholly different answers. Some will argue efficiency is about achieving a goal with the least amount of effort and resources. Some say it’s about doing something without wasting any time and effort.. you know, getting more for less. …

The ways we travel projects using Backpacks, Roadmaps, and Travel Journals

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by Sjoerd Nijland

The ways we travel reveal a lot about our personalities and about the context in which a journey takes place. In Product Management, we create itineraries toward Product Vision.

Some like to travel along a strict itinerary with pre-arranged milestones, transport and stays. With these, you will have to worry less about where to go, how to get there and what to organize along the way. It provides a sense of certainty when traveling through unfamiliar places.

In more complex and unpredictable environments, however, all these pre-made arrangements are a risk. …

A brutal yet fruitful account of crossing the line

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It was almost four years ago I left my position at an international brand. I learned a thing or two about working with agencies worldwide. I felt attracted to switch sides, broaden my horizons, and pursue my passion for Scrum. I met with the owners of a Digital Agency, about to embark on one of their biggest projects so far, a digital platform for one of the fastest-growing Dutch enterprises.

A short tour of the agency:

“In the building next doors we keep the Marketing Macaws. Upstairs the Management Lions. The room over there, with the loud music, the UX Giraffes and Design Penguins. And, all the way over there we keep the Code Monkeys, distributed over three teams, each overseen by the Project Manager in the glass box. Oh and in the basement we keep the server guys as well as some juniors and trainees: our first line support, issue and maintenance team.” …


Sjoerd Nijland

Scrum nerd (PSMIII, SPS, PSPOII, PSD, PSU), Agile geek (PAL), Serious Scrum founder

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