6 key questions to begin a lean and agile approach to goal setting

The Red Badger design team shares six questions to finding better goals using a lean and agile approach to project management.

Red Badger is prototyping a series of play cards to help solve sticky challenges with inspiration from Lean, Agile and Coaching in the process of digital product development. In the following article, we are going to share our latest thinking with you. 

Our research has shown that the toughest challenges for design consultants may not be in design or tech. Goals and KPIs being misaligned in the client organisation were mentioned as the major pain points and potential project risks.

First things first, to reach any goal dedication will be required and we need to take responsibility for making it happen. As well the client wants to be convinced to allocate appropriate resources and time. Starting the project off on the right course is essential for its success, and ultimately our success as consultants.

Finding the right goal can be a true revelation, surprisingly simple and powerful. At the end of the session we want to see the client light up, and speak with full congruence about their goal. 

The following questions help to facilitate the conversation:

What specifically do you want?

Help your client to frame the challenge in a positive form. Focus on what they do want to achieve instead of focusing on what is not desired or should be avoided. The latter easily loses energy in every possible direction, like an old-school light bulb that shines in every angle.

Instead aligning towards one specific goal focuses attention, motivation and resources like a laser beam. In coaching these are called ‘towards-to’ and ‘away-from’ motivations. The clearer the client can define the desired outcome the better.

Where are you now in relation to the outcome?

Lean | Agile | Coaching | Red Badger

Help your client to identify the distance between the current state and desired state. Use this insight to manage expectations, talk about resources needed and break the project into manageable chunks.

This process can be supported in visual ways with a strategy canvas or simply drawn on a napkin, depending on complexity. At each stage we will ask ourselves, how is it possible that the client has not achieved their goal yet? 

 How will you know when you’ve achieved the goal? 

Help your client to make the goal measurable. As well, as inspire to describe this desired outcome with all senses, what will they see, hear, and feel when they have achieved their goal. Be specific as possible.

This will help to know if the project is on track and how far the team is off, what brought them closer to the goal and what did not work as expected. 

What will this outcome get for you or allow you to do? What will you gain or lose?

Help your client to discover the true motivations, wishes or dreams that underlay the job. Often the true motivation is different from the one initially stated. This might be the case on a personal or at an organisational level.

Keep asking why at this stage, and only move deeper when the client has been able to describe their motivation clearly. The driving forces diagram might help facilitate this in a visual way.

 Source: 'The Jobs-to-be-Done-Handbook', Spiek,C., Moesta, CreateSpace, 2014 Source: 'The Jobs-to-be-Done-Handbook', Spiek,C., Moesta, CreateSpace, 2014


Where, when, how, and with whom do you want to achieve this?

Help your client to contextualise the goal as well as possible [business impact, organisational capabilities. Again be specific as possible. When will they have achieved their goal? What do they need in order to achieve the challenge? Who will take responsibility for making it happen? As well be clear about the boundaries, where does your project stop.

Who has done it before, or has a similar challenge?

Help your client to identify sources of information, potential allies and support networks inside and outside of the organisation. 

At the end of the session, we want to see the client light up and speak with full congruence about the goal. Anchor this state in a way that makes it easy to communicate and remember. This outcome vision will guide and align the team throughout the project. Make sure the goal is visibly placed and fully [really fully] understood by all of the team. 

We hope this helps you start off your project from the right place and develop your next amazing service! We are curious to learn how these questions worked for you or if you found a different approach.

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