I’ve worked in several different companies over the last ten years and I’ve worked with several different project management styles; Agile, Lean, with OKRs, 4DX and heck — I’ve even dabbled into Waterfall and PRINCE2. In the more recent months of working at FindMyPast and Roadie I have seen what aids delivery. Commitment.
Whats your issue “dude”?!
My issue is simple; I have worked on projects and at companies where we struggled to deliver. In order to get to market, or get that new feature out swiftly, engineers and teams must deliver — effectively. I feel commitments, aid deliver — massively.
Boy! How did you ever come to this realisation?
The engineering team I lead at FMP, Team Rex, work using commitments as a part of our weekly process. Although, we stopped a couple of months back and we stopped focussing on the right tasks which meant the project was more stagnant. It was during this point I realised how powerful commitments had become in our team.
To explain this further, let me take you back OKRs — it’s a simple goal setting technique used by several companies including Google and even us at Roadie. The idea is to connect the company, the team and the individuals to a single objective and move towards that.
I first had experience working with this framework at FMP and to educate myself I read Radical Focus by Christina Wodtke. Not only that but I watched several videos of Christina talking about the subject matter and I loved it. I loved the idea of increasing focus on the goal and not getting distracted by X,Y and Z.
OKR’s are Objective’s and Key Results.
Objective — A “shoot for the moon” objective, an ambitious goal to aim for. here is our first Objective from Roadie:
“Objective: Create a leading platform that allows driving instructors to increase their business whilst lowering costs”
Key Results — A metric that is measurable that shows you have met your objective. Examples for our first stab at Roadie are:
KR: 95% of registered instructors compete each section of their profile
KR: 75% instructor registrations from initial invite
Radical Focus explained the entire company had to live and breathe OKRs, and that’s where commitments came in.
Christina said every week the development team should meet and talk about each KR, and set commitments to how they are going to change their current status. The team would commit to 2–3 things a week and they would focus on changing these metrics. This increased focus every single week as the team would keep themselves accountable. During standups the team then start to challenge each other, ensure they are working on the right tickets that will help them achieve all their commitments that week.
But in the real world…
So that’s the theory, and let me tell you — IT WORKS! Every stand up meeting, when an engineer wants to “refactor x” we state “yeah that needs to be done, but lets get our commitments done first”. It’s a powerful technique to keep the team on track.
At FMP we used this during our Internal Customer Service project — we delivered 6 weeks early.
During every Roadie session we start the session by defining what we want out of it, we then write them on the whiteboard and start the work. It keeps our sessions on point.
My advice is have the team come up with these commitments at the start of the week. Write them down, print them out and keep them visible at all times. Every time one is ticked off, make a big deal — celebrate the win. But overall, make sure you are committing to the right things — make sure it’s tied to the Metric That Matters