The power of starting with the end in mind

In my previous articles, I shared some tips on how to make a great impression as a Scrum Master when joining a new team. I advised you on what to look for and how to engage with your team members to gather valuable insights. One of the first things I always inquire about is the product goals, vision, and roadmap. Why? Because they profoundly influence the team’s performance, behaviour, and challenges. Without clear goals, the team might feel lost, demotivated, and even micromanaged. While you can attempt to address these issues with various techniques and tools, their effectiveness will likely be short-lived unless you also focus on the roadmap. As Stephen R. Covey states in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, “Begin with the end in your mind”. This principle guides the approach I’m about to share in this article.

Begin with the end in mind

Setting goals for teams isn’t merely a nice gesture; it’s supported by research. For instance, Gartner’s research indicates that aligning employee goals with both organisational and personal needs can increase employee performance by up to 22%. Moreover, a study published in Harvard Business Review proposes five strategies for setting more achievable goals, including breaking them into smaller steps, making them specific and measurable, and regularly revisiting them. Sounds familiar? If you’re still not convinced, consider this: research by G. Satell and C. Windschitl demonstrates that high-performing teams cultivate a culture of shared values, and teams with a strong sense of purpose, identity, and belonging tend to be more focused, creative, and self-managing.

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Vision, product goals, and sprint goals

You might be wondering, “How do I get started?” According to Magdalena Firlit, a Professional Scrum Trainer, the best approach is to begin with the big picture. This entails creating strategic goals that everyone in your organisation can rally behind, such as a mission or a vision. Subsequently, these goals should be broken down into smaller ones, known as product goals when using Scrum. Finally, these objectives need to be translated into actionable targets for your teams, referred to as sprint goals in Scrum. Sounds simple, right? Indeed, it is, and it will infuse your organisation with focus and vitality. However, there’s a crucial factor to consider. All your goals must be in alignment with each other. Your product goals should stem from your vision, and your sprint goals should uphold your product goals. Why? Because there’s nothing worse than having a mission or vision that’s not followed through. Conversely, if you adhere to your vision and expect the same from your organisation, you’ll become a person of action. And that’s immensely powerful. If your team works on tasks that don’t contribute to your product goals or even contradict your mission, your credibility may suffer. This is precisely why, when setting organisational goals, you must begin with the end in mind.

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Remember what truly matters

Stephen R. Covey’s insightful book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” emphasises that knowing where you want to go and what you aim to achieve naturally guides your daily actions. However, before embarking on this path, it’s crucial to allocate time and space to define your priorities. Amidst hectic schedules, urgent tasks, and mandatory meetings, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters. Once your organisation’s goals are crystal clear, you’ll discern which activities are genuinely significant and which can be postponed. This clarity might also reveal that your team is heading in the wrong direction. To avoid wasting your time and your organisation’s resources, take a moment to reflect or seek feedback from your stakeholders. Dive into research on your market, products, customer data, and statistics, and be ready to take action.

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