Why communicating project goals leads to more successful outcomes
The ability to articulate and share goals of projects of an agile operating model implementation is critical because it makes determining your organization’s driving motivations for making the switch much easier. A company-wide understanding of those drivers is the key to keeping your teams focused on the most important things required by the new agile model and making it possible to continuously evaluate the success of your implementation along the way.
An organization needs to know where it’s going and why it’s going there for the change to be successful. The agile transformation’s executive sponsor should be able to communicate the goals for the implementation before engaging consultants and scheduling training sessions. Goals for projects within the transformation need to directly relate to the overall implementation goals.
For starters, make sure you’re pursuing an implementation of agile because it is the right thing to do for your organization and that you communicate those reasons. Choosing an agile model simply because it seems trendy or the competition is using it usually leads to unsustainable or short-term gains at best. Examples of much better reasons include the desire to deliver more value to customers or a deep belief in the core principles of agile operating practices and the benefits they deliver.
Next, have what some agile coaches refer to as a “communication vision.” This is the product of having thought through how the organization is going to communicate goals and priorities for the implementation. We would recommend that as part of that vision you obtain commitment from executive sponsors to not only communicate the importance of moving toward agile practices in terms of saving time and money, but also highlight the positive cultural shifts inherent with agile.
Precisely how — and how often — project goals for an agile implementation should be shared among projects and with the wider organization is also an important consideration. In general, it’s best to communicate goals as often as possible, highlighting the big-picture outcomes for the agile transformation. A helpful way to get people to reflect on how to communicate goals is to have them develop elevator pitches (30 seconds or less) that explain what they’re working on and why it’s important. That exercise helps to quickly identify a project’s core value proposition, which should easily relate to the value proposition of the transformation as a whole
From there, teams should extract the key project goals and post them in a visible area. Simplicity and personal touches work best here. People are usually more receptive to handwritten notes stuck to a wall than a highly-polished digital presentation. Handwritten notes also make it easy to keep project goals on hand for constant reference and reinforcement. Another great way to communicate project goals is by adding one very specific goal to your email signature.
Keep in mind that milestones can’t always be seen through all the way to the end of a project. Sometimes, you may need to focus on smaller steps along the way to keep your teams motivated. Think of your agile project goals as a satellite navigation system that responds to where you actually are at the moment, and what your next steps need to be. In staying true to agile principles, make sure that your strategy for achieving and evaluating success remains flexible and responsive. If you do that throughout, you’re far more likely to be successful in getting to the right outcomes for you.