Backlog Grooming Leads To Sprint Success!

Image from

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

This last sprint went very smooth, and I attribute this to the backlog grooming sessions we had.  The backlog grooming went a lot faster than most other times.  Is it because the teams are beginning to understand they don’t need everything up front?  Perhaps.  I think they not only understand they don’t need to go into design during grooming, but that they have a better understanding of the vision and stories within the backlog.

One of the things we did early on, was to do catch up grooming sessions because the teams were not doing this. This was frustrating to them, as they thought it took a lot of time out of their day.  When I explained it was factored at 10% of their capacity and it was already accounted for, they moved on. The other thing I did, was to ensure they understood the vision.  I asked the product owner to review on a regular basis what the vision was.  In addition, the week sprint ended, I encouraged the team to break out into design after their backlog grooming session.  They had their priorities, and they could now start thinking about how they would be executing.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Abraham Lincoln

Image from

All that hard work paid off.  The team understands it needs to organize their work better.The preliminary work done in the prior sprint, helped set the next sprint for success.  Mario Lucero wrote an article about the importance of pre-planning.  He did a good job summarizing its importance and writes:

“Arguably the most important reason to pre-plan is to ensure that main sprint planning meeting held with the full core team on the first day of the sprint is efficient, effective and time boxed”.

For those of you interested in learning more about this topic, I recommend you read his article.  My teams took the time out to design, ensure the assumptions they had made to estimate the story were confirmed, and that all acceptance criteria was fully outlined.  This level of maturity is not found in young teams, but must be instilled early on.  It is through their understanding of organizing early, that they will get to self organization.  These teams are completely unaware they are now one step closer to self organization.

So now it is your turn!  How do you set your sprint for success?


“It is not a bolt to be tightened into place, but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.”

John Ciardi