Did you know that US companies waste $759 billion dollars each year in low productivity? That’s a lot of money. Did you also know that employee productivity increases by 17% with the onset of daily goal meetings?
What would you do to increase your company’s or your team’s output, delivery and overall productivity by 17% without investing one more dollar in staff? Would you read a 62-slide presentation on the subject? I would. In fact I did. It’s all in a presentation on Agile Goal Setting from McLean and Company.
Maybe before you read it, take a moment to imagine yourself sitting down at the start of a quarter and opening a fresh word document to write some powerful goals designed to drive your brilliant productivity in the coming months. As the cursor blinks at you, you hesitate for just a split second on what to write.
Then you realize you better pull out your previous quarter’s goals and see how those progressed; that will certainly set you on the right path. So you dive into the cavernous depths of your files and try find the document. It shouldn’t be that hard; didn’t you just write them a few months ago? And weren’t you looking at them all along to make sure you were accomplishing things?
Well anyway, you finally find it and open and start to look through what you checked off. But wait, it looks like the things you set out to do last quarter still aren’t done. How is that possible? That doesn’t make any sense. You worked so hard last quarter! You traveled to see clients, you worked through lunch, and you had back-to-back-to-back meetings. What happened?
Work happened. Clients happened. Fires and bunny trials happened. All the things that always happen that distract you from your goals, in fact happened. And the thing is, they’re never going to stop happening. So how are you going to achieve your overall productive goals if you can’t even get one hour per day to work on those things you say are important to you?
First, you’re going to write some agile goals. Next you’re going to identify the tasks you need to do to accomplish the goals. Then you’re going to look at them constantly until you get them done. The last part is the key.
The basic concept of agile goals centers around the need to adjust your expectations based on what happens. If you said you were going to sell $40,000 worth of product by Friday, but you hit $38,000 by Tuesday, you reset your goal to $55,000. When you said you would launch a project by the end of the quarter, but you discover a major bug during beta testing, you reset your launch goal to the following month, incorporating tasks to fix that bug.
Read through the presentation and set your own agile goals. Pay special attention to the types of goals recommended for different types of positions. If you’re a manager, spend some time using this method with your team.
Next take a look at how often you need to review these goals. You set the priority, so do yourself a favor and set a review frequency. I do it once per week. Every Monday I have reserved time to look at the goals set forth for my team. They provide a one-page summary of what tasks they’re going to accomplish that week that will lead to completion of their goals. Then the following week they mark those tasks as complete or make a note of any agile adjustments. Then they provide a list of tasks for that week, and on and on.
We spend about 15 minutes with each person and by the end of the quarter, it is crystal clear what has been accomplished and what hasn’t. Our team has input on what’s important and has to take responsibility each week to explain what’s done or not done, and why. This makes things a lot easier at review time because we’ve been discussing each person’s effectiveness once per week all along.
The concept of agile goals-setting has created a very clear path of what’s important to our company. From that path, everyone knows where to focus their time. If we see they aren’t achieving the tasks they set out to do, it’s easy to look back to the original intention and refocus, or make an agile change to make the goal more realistic. To-do items don’t just drop off the list and goals don’t get approved, then shoved in a drawer. They’re relevant and evolving and useful in guiding day-to-day activity.
So read the presentation, discuss it with your team and embrace the most effective workflow I could recommend.