Stretch Objectives In A Nutshell

Stretch objectives describe any task an agile team plans to complete without expressly committing to do so. Teams incorporate stretch objectives during a Sprint or Program Increment (PI) as part of Scaled Agile. They are used when the agile team is unsure of its capacity to attain an objective. Therefore, stretch objectives are instead outcomes that, while extremely desirable, are not the difference between the success or failure of each sprint.

Understanding stretch objectives

Teams incorporate stretch objectives during a Sprint or Program Increment (PI) as part of Scaled Agile.

They are used when the agile team is unsure of its capacity to attain an objective. This capacity may be hindered for several reasons:

  • Objectives with new technology requiring time-boxed exploration. Since meeting objectives is reliant on successful exploration, there is no point in making a firm commitment.
  • An inability to make accurate estimations. Again, this is a time-boxed activity that places restrictions on meeting objectives.
  • A history of overcommitment leading to experimentation around more acceptable levels during PI planning.
  • An organizational culture which neither supports nor protects failures. This causes teams to avoid overextending themselves.
  • An organization with a very narrow target band for Program Predictability Measure. This also leads to a similar situation where teams only commit to what they are confident of achieving.

When effort is estimated for each Sprint, it is important to note that stretch objectives are excluded from estimations. In other words, they are not an excuse for stakeholders to overload a team with more work than it could conceivably complete.

Stretch objectives are instead outcomes that, while extremely desirable, are not the difference between the success or failure of each sprint. For best results, the total allowance for stretch objectives should be somewhere between 10 and 15% of the total capacity.

Benefits of stretch objectives

Though they may not be immediately obvious, stretch objectives do have some important benefits for agile teams.

These include:

  • Predictability – stretch objectives improve the predictability of business value delivery because they are not included in team commitments. Nor are they counted against teams in terms of Program Predictability Measure.
  • Improved economics – without stretch objectives, an agile team must commit to a 100% scope in a fixed timebox. Inevitably, this situation forces teams to compromise on quality or create system buffers. These can then accumulate, reducing throughput by converting uncertain earliness into certain lateness.
  • Reliability –  by their very nature, stretch objectives represent variable scope giving teams greater confidence in their ability to deliver main priorities. In turn, this increases trust between the team and stakeholders as committed objectives are continually met.
  • Flexibility – lastly, stretch objectives provide the capacity margin needed to meet commitments and reliable delivery on a cadence. However, they are also flexible enough to allow a shift in priorities as fact patterns change.

Key takeaways:

  • Stretch objectives are used in agile software development. They describe any task an agile team strives to complete but ultimately cannot commit to.
  • Stretch objectives help teams who are unsure of their capacity remove uncertainty. This uncertainty is caused by new technology implementation, a history of team overcommitment, or a poor organizational culture that neither supports nor protects failure.
  • Stretch objectives deliver many benefits to agile teams. They improve the predictability of business value delivery and in so doing, improve project economics. More confident teams tend also to be more reliable and flexible in meeting committed objectives.

Read Also: ScrumKanbanScrumbanAgile.


Kanban is a lean manufacturing framework first developed by Toyota in the late 1940s. The Kanban framework is a means of visualizing work as it moves through identifying potential bottlenecks. It does that through a process called just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to optimize engineering processes, speed up manufacturing products, and improve the go-to-market strategy.


Scrum is a methodology co-created by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum was primarily thought for software development projects to deliver new software capability every 2-4 weeks. It is a sub-group of agile also used in project management to improve startups’ productivity.

Agile Methodology

Agile started as a lightweight development method compared to heavyweight software development, which is the core paradigm of the previous decades of software development. By 2001 the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was born as a set of principles that defined the new paradigm for software development as a continuous iteration. This would also influence the way of doing business.
Scrumban is a project management framework that is a hybrid of two popular agile methodologies: Scrum and Kanban. Scrumban is a popular approach to helping businesses focus on the right strategic tasks while simultaneously strengthening their processes.
Scrum at Scale (Scrum@Scale) is a framework that Scrum teams use to address complex problems and deliver high-value products. Scrum at Scale was created through a joint venture between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum Inc. The joint venture was overseen by Jeff Sutherland, a co-creator of Scrum and one of the principal authors of the Agile Manifesto.
The Crystal agile framework is a family of agile methodologies that were developed at IBM by Alistair Cockburn in 1991. The Crystal agile framework focuses on people over processes. It empowers project teams to find their own solutions and not be constricted by rigid methodologies.
Agile Portfolio Management (AgilePfM) is a high-level change management framework that ensures that business change strategy remains under continuous review. AgilePfM reviews changes in a business environment and then coordinates similar changes within the business itself.
Agile Modeling (AM) is a methodology for modeling and documenting software-based systems. Agile Modeling is critical to the rapid and continuous delivery of software. It is a collection of values, principles, and practices that guide effective, lightweight software modeling.

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