Goal Setting towards agile

Goal Setting towards agile

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there” Yogi Berra

Everytime I get asked how to implement agile in a team I ask a simple clarifying question back.


The answer to this question is often not very forthcoming. There is often no concrete reason. There is often no tangible benefit for moving the organisation or team to an agile or rapid delivery way of working.

  • Sometimes it’s because their boss wants them to….
  • Sometimes it’s because everyone else is agile…..

  • Sometimes, and rarely, it’s because they need to remain competitive and ship software quickly.
  • Sometimes there is a concrete reason and set of goals.

It’s quite common for teams to embark on “becoming agile” with little idea of what the end goal looks like or why they’re on this journey in the first place.

  • How will the team change?
  • How will the process change?
  • What will the release process look?
  • Do you have the right people to do this?
  • What is your end goal?

The problem is that goal setting is hard, so managers and leaders avoid it. But goal setting often reveals the “why” rather than the what.

The what – “We’re going agile”

The why – “Eh?” Goal setting is not something we’re taught at schools and colleges. It’s not something we’re taught in our work places.

Sure, some people are asked to set S.M.A.R.T. goals but often with little training.

Managers and leaders should set goals. If you’re a manager or a leader you should have goals for yourself and your team. It’s your job to make the future clear and make the challenges of getting there so interesting and compelling that you attract enthusiasm and talent. It’s your job to articulate the “why”.

What managers and leaders don’t need to provide though are the detailed instructions on how the team will get there.

The messy middle is often unknown and icky. This is why including the team in a futurecast is essential. It’s why the team need to know the “why”.

The team will know how to get to the end goal (or near enough), though they may not be aware of it yet. In the messy middle, with a compelling “why” the team will become aware of how to solve the many roadblocks and challenges they will face. The team will also need to know how the journey is being measured, and of course, how to know when they have arrived.

If you don’t know where you’re going and you don’t know how to work out whether you’ve arrived – then why are you working?

  • What are you working towards?
  • How are you measuring your own success?
  • Are you heading to a future you personally want?
  • Is the business heading in the right direction?

Or are you just grinding the gears hoping you’ll end up in the right place?

It’s fine not to know the messy details of the journey and the path – but is it fine not to know where you are going, or more importantly, why you’re going there in the first place?

What are your thoughts on goal setting?

If you enjoyed this post then sign up to the newsletter and never miss a post. You’ll also get a free guide as a thank you for signing up.

If you’re serious about career progression and finding a great job then my book, Remaining Relevant, may be right up your street.

3 thoughts on “Goal Setting towards agile

  1. What an inspiring post Robert, as usually every time I take a bit of time to hear you thoughts I get something from it, sometimes looks like you know exactly what I need to read. Thanks for constantly helping us on our journey!

    1. Thank you Adriana – always nice to hear that my posts are helping people.


Comments are closed.