Sprint Bets not Goals

I have a 3 year old and she doesn’t like eating. Yeah, I know! Doesn’t like eating. We have tried all sorts to get her to eat, and yes I know ignoring her is the best idea but we have recently been betting her she couldn’t eat 13 peas in one go for example. It’s a great motivator.


During the end of a sprint planning session recently a team I was working with were struggling to come up with a goal. There was no obvious product related goal e.g MVP end to end flow demonstrable. We started to discuss different goals, we had been struggling to hit our velocity recently carrying tickets across into the next sprint but again that didn’t seem like a transcendent goal to unite the team behind, “Do all the tickets”.


So with me, the wacky agile coach saying let’s do something funky and different (Team looking skeptical) we came up with an idea of having a sprint bet. The Business Analyst on the team had not watched Star Wars, WHAT! So we decided to align our goal of getting back to velocity and completing the sprint forecast, not a great goal I know, into a “Make Craig watch Star Wars” bet. If we get back to our velocity Craig will watch Star Wars.


This seems to have worked well, the team seem more motivated to Make Craig watch Star Wars. We have enforced a strict no sabotaging rule to stop Craig from working against the team, he wouldn’t anyway. Why not bet the team some of your sprint goals, Product Owner buys cakes if ……. For example.







  1. I was on a newly formed team that inherited a piece of work that was “nearly done” at the point when the new team was formed. All of the code was written, it “just needed to be deployed”. Due to a bunch of infrastructure issues and problems with the process, it ended up on the board for nearly two months. We were working in Kanban without time-boxed iterations and we had okay throughput/cycle time, but no one would touch this piece of work and kept pulling new stuff in.

    Eventually our Dev Manager came up with an idea. At the point when that work item was finished, we would count all of the work items we’d completed, “x”, and in future we would have cake and champagne every “x” work items completed. Guess what? No new work got pulled onto the board. In the long run, it also made us break down stories more (yeah – we “gamed” it in a good way!). We carried on having cake/champagne for two years in commemoration of it. 😀


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