There are varied criteria of determining if a project is successful. They are
- Maximize the business value of project delivery
- Deliver on time
- Achieve the quality of the project(product/working software)
- Achieve the margin, reasonable the benefit
- Customer’s satisfaction
- The team well developed and enjoyable
- Good relationship with client
- Reputation in the industry
- and etc
It is not too difficult to define and work towards those objectives in the beginning of the project. However, two months later, how many projects were still considering the set of goals is what they were working for? Many teams only focused on several of them. If you were asked the question, why did you give up some of them? The answer would be very simple “No time!” I can not blame the excuses because the crucial judgment of a successful project is “Deliver on time”. The reason that we did not achieve all the goals in the end of the project is that we regard them individually, not looked them as one OBJECTIVE. And the even worse, team member might understand the goals differently, and work towards different directions. You might find, some objectives were partially accomplished. Partially done work is also considered as waste, even effort was hard made. Personally, I don’t reckon that a successful delivery is always the top one criteria to measure whether a project is successful. However, it is mandatory.
So how can we ensure that the whole team works towards the same goals, keep going and accomplish them in the end of project. You need GOT and GDT.
GOT stands for Goal Oriented Thinking; GDT stands for Goal Driven Team.
In general, we need the whole team think the project in a way of “Goal Oriented” and the project team should be “Goal Driven”.
It might be quite dry to understand the concept and where to start. Let me give a start point, thinking of the reasons of failure projects.
Reasons of failure projects
The reasons of failure projects vary case by case. They could be
- Customer’s expectation is beyond team’s capability
- Contract is much risky
- Requirement changes too frequently
- Lack of communication and feedback
- Team does not have the same goal
- Team does not focus on the goal
- and etc
Nevertheless, if the team does not work towards the same direction, the risk would be much more increased. Sometimes, project managers felt quite frustrated that the project failed even they had the money, right people and kinda nice customers.
Behind the reasons, either the team did not have the same goal, or did not work towards the same goal. So how to organize the team to achieve the same objectives along the road of project and make a project successfully? We need GOT and GDT.
GOT (Goal Oriented Thinking) & GDT (Goal Driven Team)
In order to make it more clear and transparent to my readers, I organize my thinking into five aspects(In pink). In each of them, there are solutions(In green) and tools(In yellow) to achieve the objectives of “GOT and GDT” through the whole life cycle of a project. Several solutions can also map to our daily business activities(In blue).
There are also relationship between Solutions, tools and activities. For details of this diagram please view here.
Goal Oriented Thinking
In the beginning of a project, not everyone in the team might know what exact goal of this project. So first thing, a project manager need to do is to figure out “Goal for small and big team” and clarify them, put them in a place that is visible to the whole team all the time. Then a PM still ensure that all effort which the team makes is for the goal of the small and big team. PM is responsible for drafting and finalizing the goals. I will talk about this in the “What a manager/Lead should do”section. Sometimes, you work in a small team which is part of a big team. PM need to let everyone in the team know the goal of each team. In most of the cases, small team has more goals than the big one. Make sure to balance them across teams. Team member could have objectives for himself. Make sure PM has the interviews before you draft the goal of a team, considering their personal objectives and balance it. After a goal or set of goals is finalized. It becomes the goal for a whole team. So It is OUR goal but for individual. One team One Dream.
Goal Driven Team
When you have a team which has the same goal. Next, make sure team member continue working to achieve it. To build a GDT, first thing, let everyone in the team understand it and ask them how they can do to help the team and himself to achieve the goal. PM can make it as several action items for teammates every other week. Then in the end of each two weeks, PM can evaluate individual performance against goal/value. It is not a good idea to have a performance review in the end of each year. Because no one would actually remember what a team member did well or not. Why not divide them into each very small trunk and evaluate them.
A pull system is a good tool in order to achieve the goal for a team. After we have action items for individual, you don’t have to push tasks to them, all you need do is get the tasks ready and ensure its visibility. Team member will self-organize to pick up tasks in order to accomplish team goals and his personal action item.
To build a GDT, PM should make sure that you get the right person on board. If anyone who always have different understanding of the team’s goal or can not work towards it. He might suit for the other projects but this one. A PM need to recommend him to another team or resource manager in this case.
An organization has her own visions, objectives and targets. Our ultimate goal is to align the team’s objectives with organization’s vision. Only a Goal Driven team can make this easier.
Even, a GDT is right there, we can not take for granted that a team will never change. Team member need to know everything in the team. The team shall be transparent to all sponsors, customers, users and team member himself. It does not limit to visibility of the plan, progress and risks but the business plan. Why business plan? If a team member does not know it, he won’t know how valuable his effort is. If team member don’t know it, he would not know whether what he is doing is waste.
Another thing, every project need pay more attention to, let the team see the whole system but his individual area.There are several tools that we can use to help. Business process diagram of the whole system is always help. Each small team may highlight his own part.
Sometimes, developers focus on individual functionality/story, rather than the whole business process or the system itself. In the middle of project, some team keened to make large amount of code refactoring. There are many reasons that lead to the smell situation. One of them is that developers don’t see the design for the whole business process or system. The diagram here shows how stories map to the business process. Why not hang this diagram somewhere everyone can see it?
For project plan and progress reporting, I recommend several tools, such as “S-curve”, “Burn down and burn up Chart”, Kanban or story wall and task wall
What we did was not enough. 10 minutes technical knowledge sharing should happen everyday. One minute talk is another useful tool for the team to practice communication skills. We can do more. Get the lessons learnt visible to the whole organization and require feedbacks. Open discussion, more communication helps the team more transparent.
At the same time, the team has the reporting material for senior management team. No extra work is needed. Someone said that “Reporting is only for bosses”. Not all true! Bosses need see what is going on in each team, meanwhile every team member need know this as well. They should see the same page.
What a manager/lead should do
I have been talking about what a manager/lead should do in the previous sections. Personally, I don’t like separate managers and leaders into two groups. Nowadays, managers do not only control schedule, control cost and etc, we also set directions, develop resource, align people and Enable motivation.
First thing, a manager should do is to draft and finalize the goal for a team. So what is the goal composed of?
- Contract and deliverables
- Margin of the project
- Individual career development
- Organization vision
- Customer expectation and satisfaction
- Team’s enjoyableness of the project
- Business development’s strategies
- And etc
This is how a project goal composed. Think of its balance and compromise then, explain it to the whole team, answer questions and reach individual’s understanding.
PM and the whole team need to highlight the goal in any occasion, such as meetings, activities, requirement discussion and etc. Whenever you observe an activity that violates the team’s goal, anyone should stand up and let the people know that they might be going to a wrong direction. The team shall consider those behaviors as waste and eliminate them right away.
In summary, project manager need focus on removing road blocker, providing any possible service to the team and at the same time guiding the team to a correct direction.
For HR team, it is a good way to measure people’s performance referring to if individual worked for the team’s goal and how much value that each team mate contribute .
Goal is not everything
How do we deal those good ideas that are not associated with our goal?
Please don’t ignore or throw them away . Offer another place for those good ideas and encourage the team to develop the ideas into a real thing in non-project time. I always believe that the innovation is the key of successful business.
In summary, combine the goals of organization, project and individual into one GOAL, as OUR goal. Help the team to work towards the same direction in order to achieve the same goal which will make you a successful project and successful business.