Deploying the agile scrumBut those take a bit of a back seat during January when we bring the team back to work and get everyone motivated and chomping at the bit again. Our business runs on a two-week planning and reporting cycle, known as an agile scrum for those in the software business. This means that every two weeks we meet, decide what we’re going to achieve, go and do it and then come back and report. So in order for our annual and quarterly objectives to mean anything at all, we have to break them down into what can be achieved over the course of a two-week period. Breaking them down like this is the critical step in bringing these targets to life and is absolutely essential if they are to be achieved. In our business, we have four key areas of performance that are important to us: how many users we acquire, how engaged those users are, how many users decide to become paying customers and how many paying customers decide to leave us. So what we’ve done is to break each of those down into a two-week target where we can track day by day where we are. In practical terms, this means that we are guided by our performance from one fortnight to the next across our four objectives. If during the last fortnight we hit three of our targets but missed the fourth, it’s the fourth that will get the attention over the coming fortnight. Even though its performance might take a few weeks to come back on target, we can be sure that we’re focussing our efforts where needed to achieve our targets.
Business ambition: Clear target settingSo that’s all very well, but as a business leader, setting these targets can be very tricky. For some things that’s relatively straightforward: “we’ll sign up 500 new users”, “we’ll convert 100 users to paying customers”, those are easy to track day by day, and “add up” in a very obvious way to a quarterly and annual total. Other targets aren’t so direct, so for example if we’re looking at enterprise sales, or partner distribution deals, we need to find other measures. Saying we’ll sign four new large clients a year might be a great annual target, but what does it mean we should achieve this week? It’s about looking at the component steps necessary to getting to the results we want. Perhaps we know that in order to get one deal signed, we need to do three demos, and in order to get a demo done we need to get three calls with senior stakeholders, and in order to get one call with a senior stakeholder we need to make 20 sales calls. That equates to 15 sales calls a week to achieve one deal per quarter. This kind of target setting is simplifying a complex process, and it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger goals. But by breaking down big targets into achievable weekly items, you’ll be able to show your team that the things they need to do to achieve your shared goals aren’t so scary, and get them really fired up with business ambition to deliver a great 2017.
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