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Vision and Goal in Agile

17 July 2014

Ajay Sharma
Monster Technology

To start, we have to understand the difference between a vision and a goal.

Visions are inherently more abstract, while setting business goals is more absolute. For example, the statement "I will improve the society around me" is a vision mission statement, because it expresses an abstract ambition. On the other hand, "By the end of this week, I will identify two children to help in my community and donate time to both to improve the society around me" is a goal, because it represents a tangible and measurable activity.

A vision is in abstract form; a goal is a tangible, absolute, and measurable activity.

That means that if I want to improve the education standard in society, first I have to define the vision and the goal.

According to a Japanese proverb, "Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare."

For Vision, we should follow these principles:
  1. Keep your vision visible.
  2. Put it all together.
  3. Review your vision statement regularly.
Using those principles, you can measure your progress and continuously motivate yourself to progress toward the vision you have for your ideal work life.

For Goals, follow these principles:
  1. Set realistic goals that you can achieve and that are within your own control.
  2. Make your goals SMART:
    • Sustainable: Is the goal sustainable? Is this a goal that you can really follow through with? If not, how can you shift it or break it down further so you can stick with it?
    • Measurable: The goal might need a tracking or check-in system.
    • Attainable: Do your circumstances and resources make this possible for you?
    • Realistic: Are you willing to do this work? Are you truly able to do this work?
    • Time-based: What is your time frame for making this happen?
We often create a vision statement as part of Sprint Zero. A vision statement contains a list of all the stakeholders for this product/feature, why they need it, what the productivity gain is for their day-to-day work, and so on . . . along with some important key functionalities of that product/feature.

I think revisiting the vision statement periodically is vital, since in the beginning of any engagement we lack clarity. So I would suggest that teams spend time during iterations to fine-tune the product vision, with the guidance of the PO if possible.

The Scrum PO is typically a project's key stakeholder. The product owner's responsibilities include having a vision of what he or she wishes to build, and conveying that vision to the Scrum team. This is key to successfully starting any Agile software development project. The Agile product owner does this in part through the product backlog, which is a prioritized features list for the product.

The Scrum PO's job is also to motivate the team with a clear, elevating goal. Team members know best what they are capable of, and so they select user stories from the top of the product backlog that they can commit to delivering during any sprint.

Sprint goals are the result of a negotiation between the product owner and the development team. The sprint goal gives the development team some flexibility regarding the functionality implemented within the sprint.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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