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Increasing intent improves results

·3 mins

This post started as with ‘retrospect’ in mind. I wanted to capture my thoughts about reviewing past actions and learning from them. We use ‘post-mortem’ for production incidents. We sometimes use ‘retro’ for product launches. Yet, the process should be continuous, ongoing. When thinking about it, I realized the following: When you increase your intent to do something, you improve the odds for better results.

Invest time in setting goals for the team #

I hate the planning process, but I enjoy its results. Planing can be time consuming and exhausting. But, having a small set of clear metrics and goals makes it easy for an org to work together. In a case of a dispute - we go back to our goals and see what we want to achieve. (See Naomi Gleit’s Extreme Clarity).

I’m usually a pain in planning. I always try to reduce the number of goals, to make it simpler to remember all of them. I always question the metrics, and triple check that these are the right ones as we engineers can sometimes abuse those metrics. I invest that time as it helps the team, its members and also selfishly helps me.

Keep the team’s eyes on the prize #

I’ve learned one of the simplest tricks from one of the better product managers I’ve worked with. He started every weekly meeting with re-iterating our goals. He also presented a chart of our status relative to the goals and the projection. Re-iterating the goals (for 1 minute, every week) made sure that people know what they are woking for. From my experience, it makes it easier to focus on the right things.

Keep your eyes on the prize #

I maintain a high-level log of the work I do. I also share the log with my peers and manager. Doing so helps others gain visibility to my work. At the top of my log, I list my high level goals for the current half. This helps me make sure I remember what they are and check every week that I’m trending to the right direction.

Those status updates allow me to perform a lightweight post-mortem of my work. It’s much easier for me to make small adjustments as needed, compared to big, infrequent shifts.

Team goals and personal goals should align #

This sounds obvious. I shouldn’t have big projects which don’t align with my team’s goals. What’s the point in doing that? It’s like heading to one destination when you actually want to get to another. Personal goals should take into account personal desires. But, they must align with the team’s goals.

A word about chaos #

Things change. There are reorgs. Projects get cancelled. People leave. There’s sometimes chaos - which tests our ability to achieve our goals. If you’re looking for stability, you would like your goals to remain as is. This isn’t always the case. Given your environment, try and make your goals agnostic to change as much as possible.

Conclusion #

When you maintain your intent to achieve your goals, odds improve that you’ll achieve them. That requires crystalizing the goals and continuously aligning with them.