Goal based planning: A new approach to planning for modern teams

May 24, 2018

Whether you are in marketing, sales, product or customer service, creativity is the key to having a successful team today. The best companies focus on finding ways to unlock the potential of each individual team member in a collaborative environment to innovate and continuously improve. As a team leader, it's time to move away from this age old obsession with optimizing efficiency to unleashing creativity. You want to find new ways to maximize both your team's output and input.

Leading a creative team of professional knowledge workers takes a different approach to leadership. Simply telling your team what to do and how to do it doesn't work. As a team leader, you might not even know what 'the best' way of doing things even is. Or you might not know what needs to be done at all! Creatives on your team need to be empowered to not only set their own goals, but be empowered to both design and work their way. Leaders of creatives need to be coaches and facilitators, not managers.

So how does stuff get done on a team like that?

You want the motivation and direction to come from each team member. Team members should be given a high level of control over their work design and goals with continuous feedback on progress, so that team members can correct their course of action continuously.

To enable this type of self-management and self-organization, we have designed a goal based planning method. It's simple and incredibly powerful.

  • Team members set their capacity (available workable hours per week)

  • Team members then set goals for work to be completed in a given time box (ideally a week or 2-weeks) 

  • Next, team members start working on achieving their goal and continuously monitor the completion of work 

  • At the end of the time box, team members evaluate their achievement and learn what to do better in the next time box

The capacity of a team member is the number of hours or productivity expected from a team member in a given time box. For example, 35 productive hours in a week.

The goal is the work a team member aims to complete within a given time box. At the beginning of the time box, team members estimate the work and select the work to be completed in the time box from a prioritized list of work to be done (features, bugs, blog posts, sales proposals, etc).

As work starts, team members indicate the completion percentage of the work. At the end of the time box, team members self-evaluate the progress made and learn to set more or less ambitious goals and identify ways to be more productive.

The process this looks something like this:

  1. Set Capacity

  2. Define and prioritize work

  3. Estimate work

  4. Set goals: select work to do in the selected time box - are you at full capacity?

  5. Track completion of work

  6. Evaluate: Could I have been more ambitious? Did I underestimate? What obstacles can I remove?

Team leaders are focused on guiding team members to clarify and specify the work, set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, Timely), identifying obstacles early and evaluating results (What went well? What can be improved?).



Goal based planning with TipHive


With the right set of tools, this approach is easy to implement. Here is how you do it with TipHive.

Set your capacity on your user profile.

Define work
Cards let you create a detailed description of the work, including all of the related information. Use the List or Task view to quickly create a list of Cards. You can group Cards in categories, mini projects, epics or sprints. Collaborate around Cards to all get on the same page.

Prioritize work
The Priorities View lets you easily rank work based on value and effort.

Estimate work
For each Card, you can add the estimated time you expect it to take. The planning feature makes this really easy and quick to do.

Set Goals
The Goal view lets you drag and drop Cards into a Goal Column for the work you want to complete in the selected time box. As you add Cards, the capacity bar is 'filled' based on the work per Card, so that you can see when you are 'full'. You can add due and start dates as well.

Track completion
As you work on the Cards to achieve your goal, you can track completion with a simple slider to indicate percentage complete per Card. The Total Progress bar shows percentage complete of the goal in the time box. Once 100% complete, the Card is moved to the Complete column. For team leaders it is easy to filter based on team members and time boxes to monitor the progress.

If you need more detail, you may want to add Daily Scrum Cards. Each team member posts a Card answering three questions: What did you do today? What will you do tomorrow? Do you have any obstacles? You can collect those Cards in a Topic called 'Daily Scrum Cards' where team members add this report daily.

At the end of the time box, team members and team leaders can review what has been completed and what not. They can also write a brief review for each Card completed: Did we meet our goal? If not, why? What went well? What did not go well? What can we improve for the next time box?

TipHive offers even more tools to help you organize your work.

Work flow
The Kanban view lets you create a workflow with columns for each step and you can drag and drop Cards across columns as work moves along.

Team leaders need to know when work is expected to be complete and when other work can start. The Calendar view lets you view Cards in a timeline (quarters, months, weeks, days) and easily drag a Card's start and due date.

The Assignment view shows columns per team member and lets you drag and drop Cards in columns to assign the Cards to team members. This is a quick way to divide work across the team.

Planning Adjustments
The Planning view shows both the timeline and the team members so that you can quickly reorganize and replan work. Easily move Cards from one team member to another or from one time box to another.

With these tools any team can adopt a goal based work style that empowers creatives and unleashes their productivity. It's more fun for everyone. Team leaders can stop micro managing and help team members overcome obstacle and generate creative solutions, while still having a strong grasp on the status of work and timelines. Team members can take control over their own destiny and maximize their contribution to the team.

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