I started writing this as an email to a colleague but decided to transform it into a blog post. Some places maybe overly simplified to keep it short and brief. Read more on those topics online elsewhere, if something seems interesting and useful.
How to plan and execute productively?
Know or define your mission
- Your mission. Why you do what you do
- Your company's mission. Why it does what it does. Why it is important for the society
- Your role's goals. Why your role is important for the company and, thus, for the society
E.g., our mission is to help employees be more productive and engaged at work.
Know or define objectives
- Your objectives. I mean, your life goals in general and this year
- Your company objectives that it has defined for the whole company in general and for this year
- Your department objectives, team objectives
- Your individual objectives at the company
E.g., our objective is to achieve a certain number of users for Motivio Meals this year.
You can't have more than 3-5 objectives at the same time, otherwise, it just does not make sense.
Know or define key results that are important to achieve those objectives.
Now, what's the difference? Please, read about "Objectives and key results" (OKR) framework (https://medium.com/happierco-blog/how-to-write-objective-and-key-results-practical-examples-dc28e36db0d9). In short - these are your steps how you plan to achieve your objectives.
A note - objectives may be just emotionally charged, without quantitative criteria (e.g. - improve sales process), but the key results definitely have to be SMART (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria). However, when possible, keep the objectives also quantitative (e.g., increase sales by 30% this year).
You should not have more than 3-6 key results for each of your objectives. Key results do not equal tasks - those are absolutely critical KPIs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performance_indicator) or projects (or tasks as well) that need to be achieved in order to be sure you've achieved your objective.
Know your KPIs
What are 1-3 absolutely critical KPIs you need to achieve or sustain? E.g., a certain number of new sales calls per week. Know the difference between lead measures - input (e.g., calls per week ) and lag measures - output (e.g., new users per week).
Know your PPP - progress, problems, plans
1. Progress. Based on your OKRs and KPIs, evaluate your progress since the previous evaluation period - what have you done to move towards OKRs (input) and what have you achieved (output)?
2. Problems. Based on the evaluation of the progress and overall experience, what problems have you faced (past obstacles) and foresee (future obstacles)?
3. Plans. Based on the OKRs, KPIs, progress, and problems - what are your plans for the coming period? More often then not, you would plan the following:
- priority tasks to achieve OKRs
- tasks to deal with important problems that definitely have to be dealt with.
Here oftentimes it's worth remembering the old Serenity prayer - God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
Plus, I'd raise an additional question - is the problem really worth solving? I mean, is it an ego issue or an issue that really impacts OKRs or KPIs? Leave the ego issues at rest, focus on OKRs and KPIs.
Discuss your mission, OKRs, KPIs and PPPs with a mentor or manager to gain perspective. You not only have things you don't know, but you also have things you don't know you don't know...
Yearly - think about your mission very deep; set the OKRs
1-4 times a year - review and redefine OKRs and KPIs
Monthly - review and redefine key results (the KR part of OKR) and, if necessary, objectives as well (depending on the agility of your environment)
Weekly - define PPP
- OKRs should be known to all who are impacted by them and who can impact them. E.g., company's OKRs are available for the whole company, but an employee's OKRs to the employee and her manager.
- Same with KPIs
- PPPs should be available to the horizontal team and the supervisor. E.g., if the marketing team consists of 5 people and a manager, then their PPPs are distributed in a weekly email to other 4 team members and the manager
- Thus you can spend your 1:1 meeting time with the manager not on telling PPPs but on discussing solutions, ideas, needs, getting advice, etc.