SMART Goals – Steering it the agile way!
By Nirmala Pol
Simon Sinek, a renowned TED Speaker, marketing consultant and author, believes that uncovering the why behind one’s actions is the best way. He emphasizes that starting with WHY is a means to both understand and influence others to take action or accomplish any goals. When you start with why, you can harness the motivation behind why we do what we do to drive organizational outcomes.
He illustrates this with what he calls the golden circle. The golden circle is about defining the why, how and what. The why is what motivates us and is the driving force behind our actions. Following the golden circle approach, we can ask relevant questions along the way to arrive at meaningful insights for designing and structuring employee goals that align with the business goals of the organization. If you can effectively align the why with organizational goals, the propensity for accomplishment is much higher.
So, WHY do we need smart goals?
Employee goals should be planned and designed to solve organizational business goals. By breaking them into meaningful milestones and fostering continuous communication and progressive monitoring, it can help the manager and employee to adjust to changing business needs.
Smart goals should be…
S – Simple doable tasks
M – Meaningful milestones
A – Attainable
R – Relevant realistic expectations
T – Tweakable target/tasks
HOW do we approach smart goals? What kind of influence do they have on our personal/team/business goals?
Expectations that are clearly communicated and assessed frequently enable employees to remain close to their why and ensures that their day-to-day efforts map up to the organization’s goals. This agile approach of handling goals helps to create a roadmap to achieve the desired end result. It gives clarity and vision to march ahead.
WHAT do we need to do to achieve the smart goal – Collaboration? Planning? Flexibility? Infrastructure? Acceptability?
My quality assurance team faces challenges every release to prioritize and stay on track to meet our deadline. To carry through our team goal, we schedule a planning, time estimation and task allocation meeting. This meeting is where we ask why, what, and how questions, like:
- Why this task/feature is a priority?
- What exactly do we need to get started?
- How are we going to approach the design?
We want to figure out what the potential impact may be for customers, determine if all the stakeholders have enough information and the infrastructure to proceed with the task, and how long it will take to finish the user story. By asking the right questions and using the golden circle approach, we find answers to set us up for success.
If our team goals are rigid, long term in nature and difficult to steer around, it becomes more challenging to accomplish team goals. The team may feel as though they are unable to accomplish the goal because it seems unattainable.
Breaking up a complex traditional rigid goal process into a more flexible, agile approach helps us achieve the desired end result and allows us to be more productive with our time. For example, to arrive at maximum productivity, our development team uses a separate environment to work on features while quality assurance is underway. This separate environment gives us the flexibility to merge work from different environments when we are nearing delivery deadline provides us the opportunity to address any issues without compromising our timeline. This is a consummate model of defining smart goals and steering them the agile way! This increased level of agility and connection to our collective why enables us to meet deadlines without compromising quality.
Being a constituent of the Agile Performance team, I have seen my team incorporate achievable goals – THE SMART WAY! We are holistically agile in the path we take to plan, work and achieve our goals. This helps us function in a very cohesive and collaborative manner.
If you wish to replicate this approach in your organization, utilize the simple golden circle approach to plan team goals and see astounding business results! You may also wish to check out the Transforming to Agile Performance white paper to learn how to make this transition.