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The Benefits of Stretch Objectives in Agile Teams

Agile teams are known for their adaptability and flexibility when it comes to delivering high-quality products to their clients. However, it can be challenging to balance sprint goals and program increments while ensuring that the team is motivated and engaged.

This is where stretch objectives come into play. In this article, we will discuss the definition, benefits, and implementation of stretch objectives in agile teams, as well as a common issue that arises with deliverables.

Stretch objectives can be defined as additional or optional tasks that are added to a sprint or program increment goal. These objectives are not mandatory but provide the team with the opportunity to push themselves beyond the minimum requirements.

This can include additional development work, bug testing, or other tasks that are not prioritized in the sprint backlog. One of the benefits of stretch objectives is that they increase the team’s commitment to delivering high-quality products.

When the team is given the opportunity to push themselves, they are more likely to feel a sense of ownership and pride in their work. This can also improve team morale and trust among team members.

Another benefit of stretch objectives is flexibility. In agile teams, capacity can vary from sprint to sprint.

Stretch objectives can help to account for changes in capacity by providing the team with additional tasks to work on. This can also help to ensure that the program increment is delivered on time and with the required functionality.

Finally, stretch objectives can lead to improved quality. When the team is given the option to work on nice-to-have tasks, they are more likely to prioritize trade-offs.

This can result in a higher-quality product in the end. Proper categorization and validation by the Product Owner can help to ensure that the stretch objectives are in line with the overall goals of the sprint or program increment.

When implementing stretch objectives, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the ideal percentage of work on stretch objectives should be around 10 to 15 percent of the total work for the sprint or program increment.

This ensures that the team is still focused on the primary goals while also giving them the opportunity to work on stretch objectives.

In terms of categorization, stretch objectives should be validated and categorized by the Product Owner.

This helps to ensure that they align with the overall goals of the sprint or program increment. It is also important to note that stretch objectives should be nice-to-have effort rather than essential tasks.

Now, let’s discuss a common issue that arises with deliverables in agile teams. One issue that can occur is the close delivery of deliverables.

This can result in conflicts and a rushed delivery of functionality. It is important to have realistic expectations for what can be accomplished in a sprint or program increment.

As an Agile Coach, one solution to this issue is to implement stretch objectives. By providing the team with additional tasks to work on, they can use this time to focus on developing the full functionality of the product and performing thorough QA testing.

In conclusion, stretch objectives can provide many benefits to agile teams, including increased commitment, flexibility, and improved quality. However, it is important to keep the ideal percentage of work in mind and ensure that the stretch objectives align with the overall goals of the sprint or program increment.

By doing this, the team can meet their primary goals while also pushing themselves to deliver high-quality products. Stretch objectives in agile teams are optional tasks that enhance commitment, flexibility, and quality while improving team morale and trust.

They provide an opportunity to push the team beyond minimum requirements and prioritize trade-offs to deliver high-quality products and ensure the timeliness of the primary goals. Implementation includes categorization validation, ideal percentage of work, and nice-to-have efforts.

Agile Coach can use stretch objectives as a solution to close deliverables by encouraging realistic expectations of what can be accomplished. The key takeaway is that stretch objectives can help to balance primary goals and enhance motivation, team accountability, and ensure the timely delivery of high-quality products.

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