Getting your goals right

January is typically the month where a lot of us set new and often ambitious goals for ourselves. And the coming weeks are typically the ones where we once again fail miserably in achieving them.

Maintaining and working hard towards a goal – especially a big hairy one – is really hard and takes an awful amount of discipline.

None of us are super disciplined 100 % of the time, and thus it makes sense to conclude that the more goals, you add to your list, the bigger the chances are that you won’t reach them. Maybe even none of them.

If we take that to be true, how come we seem to always add new goals to our lists at work? How come we have a tendency to add so many goals across one or more teams that sometimes it seems like we spend a lot more time managing and reporting on goals than we do on actually working towards achieving them?

Part of the reason for that is probably that we use the different frameworks for setting and managing goals in ways that are not really productive. We adapt frameworks built for other purposes and apply them across our teams as a ‘one size fits all’-thing that ultimately don’t fit anyone particular well. But causes a lot of frustration in the process.

So of course the good question is what to do about this and apply a way of working with goals that actually works by setting direction but not bogging you down in micro-management, lack of discipline and ultimate loss of motivation?

An initial step could very well be to just realize that goals are in the same way are not meant for everyone. That for instance it doesn’t make sense to apply an OKR approach through the entire organization, if some different way of setting and meeting goals work better in sales than it does in customer support or engineering.

With that in mind allow me to outline a suggested approach. From the bottom and upwards:

On the operational level it makes a ton of sense to look at the different disciplines as essentially part of an organism that has a firm rhythm. Almost like a heartbeat really.

When you look fx at sales there are established simple frameworks for setting goals and managing performance when it comes to everything from time from lead to closing to average deal size and more.

There is absolutely no reason to work with anything but the established standards there and in other areas of your business, where standards apply, as you want to ensure that the people in your team who is on point to deliver work towards types of goals that they know and recognize, and which ultimately frees up as much time as possible for their core tasks: Closing deals, managing support tickets, deploy new features etc.

It would probably be quite easy from a senior management point of view to apply different approaches and then cascade the metrics upwards towards a simple ’rhythm of the business’-scorecard, you can use to keep track of how the operation is ticking along, and which allows you to step in and do an intervention, of you can start to see anomalies in the rhythm. That would actually be quite effective.

Because the operational versus development aspect does play a key role in getting this right; you want to keep operational issues operational, and you want those operational issues that require an effort to optimize and fix going forward to feed into the development cycle and how you look at things for the longer term.

The development cycle is not only related to engineering and new features. It is also related to the overall development of your business. Put bluntly there is no reason you should bother your team members with issues of future strategic importance, if it takes away from their ability to focus on getting the job, they need to do today, done.

Thus the overall strategic objectives of your business should only be of primary concern to the senior management team or the founders. And this is where it makes sense to look at frameworks such as the OKR model.

The OKR model great for stating an objective and identify some key results that you need to achieve in order to meet that objective – like a guideline for reaching the goal with a few built-in sanity checks. But it should be restricted to big picture issues, as it’s terrible for micro-management.

Setting your OKR objectives also takes some skill in ensuring that you set just the right number. You should always have more than one, but you should probably not have more than 3 across the business. Because if you have more, you’re just adding on to your list, you loose track and motivation, and you likely won’t achieve the goals.

You should also not set goals that are too far out in the horizon. One of the big reasons people give up on their goals is because the time to experience success is way too long. You thus need to break up the objectives in smaller bite sizes and work to meet them one at a time.

A simple approach could be to define your objective for the next 12 months and then look at the key results needed to get there. Define those and break them down into smaller short-term objectives that can be the only ones, you put up on a board and work towards in fx a quarter.

That will help make your overall business goals smaller, ambitious but achievable and – crucially – point in the right strategic direction. When you then add the key results to achieve these minor short-term objectives, you should look to set and integrate the standard KPI’s from your various teams in order to ensure that everybody in your teams are working towards the same overall common goal – but without adding work streams, processes and reporting for them to the mix.

This is just a suggestion on how you could do it. The point is that while goals are important to have, it’s more important to have goals and a way or working with them that is actually operationally viable and don’t have a detrimental effect on efficiency, focus and ultimately morale.

(Photo by Rhett Lewis on Unsplash)

Happy New Year

First of all: Happy New Year! I hope you bade 2021 a proper farewell and are ready to take on 2022 with everything it has to offer.

Change often accompanies a new year. And with this blog it’s the same thing. So let me in the shortest possible terms try to outline what my ambitions are for my writing here on this blog in the year ahead:

I will try to write more thoughtful posts. They will probably tend to be longer. And be published less frequently.

Writing is a matter of personal therapy for me. I use my writing to digest things, I find interesting and often also to ponder things.

But what I have found in the past is that my writing has tended to be more about bits and pieces I find interesting in the moment and less about pondering about something really important.

I want to change that.

Going forward I will be using this blog to ponder more and share less. The sharing I will do, I will be doing through my LinkedIn and (perhaps) my Twitter account.

This space will be more about the things I struggle with getting my head around and/or foundational things I find truly important and utterly believe in.

More unfiltered. Less cluttered.

That’s my ambition. Please feel free to hold me accountable for living up to it. Accountability also helps my thought process.

(Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash)

Happy New Year

Could 2021 be any more miserable than 2020 was?

Of course it can – things can always get worse.

But lets not go there.

Let us instead enter 2021 with a positive frame of mind and just tell ourselves that it will take something to make the new year worse or more challenging than the one, we’re (happily) leaving behind.

2021 have everything working for it to be great even if its for no other reason that it’s NOT 2020.

The only way is up; onwards and upwards from here.

Light the candle, and let’s get underway!

I will not so much remember 2020 for Covid-19 as I will remember it as the year, where the physical interactions human-to-human came to a minimum – and the realization just how important they are for our overall wellbeing.

Even though many are busy heralding the marvels of technology and its ability to help us keep the wheels in motion, let us also make sure 2020 is a reminder to us all of just how limited technology can also be (and will likely always be);

It. Is. No. Replacement. For. Real. Relationships. Between. People.

It is my wish for the new year that it will be the year, where we keep this rediscovered sacred knowledge in our hearts and use every opportunity we can to reach out, connect – and be human to one another.

Happy New Year!

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Happy New Year!

2019 is running out and now is a good time to reflect on the year gone by and looking ahead to 2020.

May 1 I joined inQvation as Head of Studio. It has been an amazing and hectic experience so far. When you are trying to build something from scratch, there is a lot of heavy lifting that needs to be done – a lot of things you need to figure out. I have learned a lot, and overall I think we’re a lot wiser on what works and what doesn’t going into 2020.

We’re very ambitious about 2020. This is the year where all the work, we put in, and the experience, we have gainedm, should enable us – and you too – to start seeing the first real results of our work. Not the end product as such, because building a startup is an ongoing process. But we will be signaling intent and trying to make our mark in some very interesting spaces. I promise. And I look so much forward to it.

Happy New Year!

(Photo: Pixabay.com)