Settings goals is only 40% of the puzzle
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Settings goals is only 40% of the puzzle

When we set goals for teams, what we’re really saying is that we want to get better and reach new heights. So the current method is some kind of goal setting framework (like OKRs or Smart Goals), and then we manage performance by ensuring teams are living up to those objectives.

Setting goals is great, but there are 3 other elements that often get neglected. If you do all these things, in this order, you will be amazed at how productive your teams can be. None of these are difficult to do, and the process will only take a few minutes each week from everyone.

Step 1, Set Objectives.

Setting up an objective is easy for most teams. You want to highlight where you want to be in 5 years time, or 1 years time, or even next month. But you need to spell it out so it’s clear for everyone to see. This forms the basis of everything we do. If we don’t know where we’re going – any path will get us there.

It’s very easy to keep track of your objectives inside OHNO.

Step 2, Define some key results

Key results are used in the OKR framework, but I’ve seen teams use them without knowing anything about OKRs. Key Results are really numbers that you can measure. All key results should have a number in them.

Good Key Result
Make $1m USD selling 21′ Monitors before the end of June, 2019.

Bad Key Result
Make more money.

Step 3, Identify barriers

This is where most OKR frameworks stop talking. Once the key results are defined, teams are left on their own. But there are 3 additional things that really help you go fast.

OHNO regularly prompts our customers to think of things that are stopping them from reaching their goals. This reenforces what their goals are, and uncovers problems slowing teams down.

First, you need to regularly (I suggest weekly) identify barriers to progress. What is holding you back? You need honest answers here – no fluffy abstractions. To capture this, you can have teams simply send an email once a week with their biggest blockers, you can discuss them during management 1 on 1s, or you can just use OHNO which will find these out for you automatically.

Step 4, Diagnose the problems

Next, you need to discuss the problems that come up and go a little deeper. This is how we lift psychological safety in teams. When issues are raised, it’s rare for teams to talk about them in any meaningful way, mostly because people assume nothing will be done about them, or they fear being reprimanded. What we’ve tried to do with OHNO is encourage teams to use the 5 Whys, which makes that process less painful, more objective, and is vastly more encouraging in a team setting.

Walking through this process encourages teams to talk about the underlying issues, which have probably never been spoken about at all. It also encourages teams to think more broadly about the organisation. How do other departments fit into this problem? What perspective can they bring?

If the issue is “We don’t make any money selling monitors” a 5 Why process might uncover issues related to training, to HR on-boarding, even to basic capability of your team. The deeper you go, the more powerful the diagnostic problem solving process will be. You will learn about your darkest fears in this process, and by bringing those to the surface in a safe and useful way, you will start facing your demons, and moving faster than ever before.

But it takes a little courage to start – and this is what separates the truely powerful teams from the ones who simply aspire to greatness.

Step 5, Solving the problems

Once you’ve identified the issues, you can start to create tactical actions that help your team get faster, and closer to their goals. By creating actions that solve these underlying problems, you get a compounding effect of speed. It might seem like you’re working on issues that won’t help, but the more friction you can remove from your teams way, the faster they will move towards their objectives.

For each underlying problem inside OHNO, you can create an action that will solve it for good and then push that action into whatever task management tool you use (Like Trello)

You don’t need to use OHNO to do any of this stuff, you can do it all on a whiteboard if that works for you, but if you like, give it a try yourself.

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