Saturday, 28 October 2017

My favourite coaching tools: SMART Acronym Update

So I've been using SMART/S.M.A.R.T. for quite a while ( to help everyone understand the specific Task / Action / Goal / Objective clearly, so that success can be pursued by several people committed to achieving it together!

And along the way, I've come across Tom Gilb, and his 4 foundation rules for improving Specification Quality:

  1. Every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph is clear to intended readers (RB: and lowest common denominator MUST be considered here: the newly joined member of the team)
  2. Every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph is unambiguous (RB: so a glossary is a darn good idea, especially in abstract knowledge work, aka software delivery; note glossaries / data definitions / configuration libraries were a big thing in software since the 1960's at least)
  3. All qualities are quantified (RB: so not faster/cheaper/better/blah...instead: Unit of Measure clearly defined, the meter clearly defined, the current state or measurement clearly noted, and then the future state survival and/or target and/or stretch and/or wish thresholds are expressed)
  4. No solution language unless the document is specifying the solution (RB: keep the language in the problem domain/space ie common business layman's terminology)

And through Tom's teaching, Lord Kelvin's "To Measure Is To Know".

Thinking about all the lessons learned, and helping many individuals and teams move towards their desired future states, I've been modifying the SMART I use to mean the following these days:

    S - Specific (following Tom Gilb's #1 and #2 rules)
    M - Measured By (following Tom Gilb's #3 rule)
    A - Achievable (as a sanity check of the S&M against the R and T coming soon)
    R - Responsible person to agitate that this SMART is delivered is <...> (a single person is a must, if only to remind those who have to do the work, or even better, the person who is going to get the Task / Action / Story / Work Done!)
    T - Timebound on or before  

For Retrospectives

If this is a SMART Action that a team is generating from their Sprint or other Retrospective, as facilitator I encourage the Timebound to be on or before the next Retrospective (which the team commits to knowing and understanding what dd-mmm-yyyy that is!)

For Management Tactical or Strategic Objectives

Again the management team commits to the next planning date dd-mmm-yyyy for the Timebound element and we block out the calendars to ensure that happens! Nothing drains morale and energy than constant slipping of important - especially Strategically agreed important - Tasks/Actions/Objectives.

For Individuals or Delivery/Product Teams I'm Coaching

Exactly the same as Retrospectives or Management: we're all talking about changing the Current Reality to the Future Reality. Usually though, individuals are setting target states for the end of the current or next month - ie shorter windows in which to achieve shifts of consciousness and/or behaviours that impact or lead to the outcome they're trying to achieve.

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