How to write good SMART goals like a professional?

The end of the year is almost here, and with the end of the decade as well. The time for new year resolution and other types of goals is coming.

In an agile community, one really important type of goal, that should happen more than once a year, is the sprint goal.

So what makes a good sprint goal? How can you, write a good one?

There are several frameworks for defining goals and actions out there. I like to start with S.M.A.R.T. goals. This goes for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realist and Time-Bound. Let us drill into each one of them.

S: Specific

It needs to be very clear what this goal is and what it wants to achieve.

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What are we going to gain from it?
  • Who needs to contribute?

These are just some of the questions that should be easily answered when looking at the goal.

M: Measurable

How will you know that the goal has been achieved? In an objective way of course.

Every team needs to be able to measure their own goals. This idea cannot be locked away in someone’s head. Also, for transparency purposes, this should be clear and available for anyone to track.

To measure the goal, you should aim to answer the following questions:

  • How can I know when this is accomplished?
  • When this goal is reached, will I have more of something?

A: Attainable

There is no point in putting a goal out there that cannot be achieved by the team or is not realistic. The whole purpose of the goal should be to attain something, so it should also be attainable.

At this point, these questions are very important:

  • Do we have all the skills needed to achieve this goal?
  • If not, can we get them on time?
  • With the market conditions, is this something that is going to happen?
  • Do we have any idea what needs to be done?

R: Relevant

A very important part of any goal and I am sad to say, most of the time overlooked. This can be due to a lack of data or knowledge about your customer, but never the least, we should force ourselves to answer YES to all of these questions.

  • Knowing what I know today, is this worthwhile?
  • Is this aligned with our company values and mission?
  • Are we the right team to try and achieve this goal?
  • Will this help our company move forward?
  • Is this the right time for us to try this?

A single NO to any of these questions should trigger you to revisit this goal.

T: Time-Bound

In most cases, the easiest to achieve, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about it.

If you are doing Scrum or any time of Sprint development, you probably have a Sprint Goal. If you don’t, please get one. In this scenario, you are already time-bounded to the sprint itself.

If by any chance you are already at a higher level of maturity with things like OKR’s and such, in most cases, these are time-bound to quarter. You are also safe in that regard.

But let us imagine a world where you have a goal and disregard completely the 4 dimensions of space-time. Your goal should be able to answer the following questions.

  • When do I want this to be achieved?
  • How do I see this goal in 6 weeks, 6 months?

Hope this will help you to get better goals for 2020.

Do you have any other tools or frameworks you use to get your goals out? Let me know over the webs.



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