Self-evaluation for last year – Done. Goal setting for the current year – checked.
All right! Now comes the enormous task of goals execution.
Many of us start every calendar year with a firm resolution to achieve our professional goals and for the first few months, we stick to the plan. Gradually the enthusiasm fizzles down by the time we reach second quarter and completely fades off without any track while we are filing Income tax returns in the midyear. Then suddenly, around the month of October when we are nudged by the automatic mailers to fill the self-evaluation, we start panicking.
Does this sound familiar?
To aspire for big goals is self-praising. But to get them executed swiftly is an ardent task. Whether you have heard of agile methodology or not, we suggest using Scrum to accomplish your goals. Scrum is one of the methods to run Agile model.
Scrum is a project execution model under Agile—used widely in software development projects and is popular due to its smaller but fast-paced deliveries.
In this method, you execute your tasks in a fixed number of days called sprint and keep a track of the progress daily. Scrum compels analyzing the problems and the showstoppers called impediments, retrospect your accomplishments, the journey involved, and shuffling the goals if needed.
For simplicity, let us take a common yet aspiring goal—Promotion. Targeting promotion as a goal is fascinating when talked about but an overwhelming or even daunting term for many when executed. It whirls your mind when you start stepping towards the task.
How would you execute your goals to success with Scrum?
That is defining your goals in a broader and then detailed way. So your Epic is promotion and you have to divide your daunting goal into smaller achievable tasks called Stories. Say following have been set as smaller tasks or stories to get the promotion:
Achievable Stories should follow INVEST rule that is:
Now how do you execute these smaller stories?
Agile’s main idea is to perform the tasks in a time-boxed manner.
You need to divide the time available with you into feasible iterations called sprint. Since tasks towards these goals cannot occupy a full day or 9 hours a day like your day-to-day job, you need to set aside a time for every working day to work on your stories. Usually, a sprint in Scrum is between one week and one month. At the end of each iteration, you should have your stories completed with result in your hands. You can target multiple stories in a single sprint.
A sprint starts with a Sprint Planning meeting. You can take out 15-30 minutes on the first day of your sprint to decide which all stories should be targeted in the sprint, what would you need and
Assume, you want to acquire a certification on Supply Chain Management (SCM). You have to take some courses, read materials and prepare for the certification. You might need to sort out the right certification amongst the many available in the market. Now, you have further tasks as:
You can achieve each of the above tasks at the end of one sprint. Remember, a new iteration can be a refinement of a previous sprint too. So if you set a sprint to be two weeks, ideally you should be able to achieve the SCM certificate after 10 weeks.
You are the one who is answerable for your goal execution. This is a one-man army and it becomes difficult to track a task when there is no external authority to account you. So, daily scrum comes into picture where you record your progress on a daily basis. You need to have set aside five minutes for daily brainstorming on your progress. Set out a fixed slot, which is free of regular hassles.
Now you should ask these questions:
These questions will help you to keep on track and progress smoothly. Since this is ‘Scrum for one’, you have to question yourself and your answers should be self-satisfactory. Chance of missing a daily Scrum is high, so set a reminder in your phone. The agenda can also go for a toss. So record.
Many Scrum boards are available online like Trello, Flying Donut, and VivifyScrum. You can take benefits of these. However, I prefer a simple way, sticking a whiteboard (or a chart paper) on the wall, diving it in four quadrants and using post-its for the progress. And it had worked for me most of the time while working on my short stories and fictions.
Other innovative and interesting daily stand-up methods can be used such as 1-minute daily video or just an audio for the record keeping, while you are having a daily scrum with yourself. People performing ‘Scrum for one’ have been using these. How about simply keeping a handwritten note in a journal?
A Scrum board will more or less look like the image below. The actual Agile board will have a testing section instead of hurdles and each of the four sections have their impediments noted in a separate color of post-it to address. But, as we are working on a one-man Scrum and testing may not be a viable step for career goals, we have made a section of hurdles separately.
A Simple Scrum Board
A retrospection meeting happens on the last day of the sprint. During this time, you should look back at your completed stories and find what improvements can be done in future and what went great in the achievements.
This is an exclusive time to analyze the past, not the future. So ask yourself as many questions as possible:
Collect minimum two reflections from the above questionnaire from every sprint to execute the next iteration better.
There can be many ways to execute a plan towards your goals. Scrum as an agile methodology is a fast-paced approach towards a project execution with some room for flexibility and shuffling. But use this room wisely. Scrum is known to improve productivity only with time. So, retrospection is necessary.
A few points to remember while using Scrum to execute the career goals:
‘Scrum for one’ might seem a bit tedious to manage with too many meetings on a daily basis. But, once you develop a routine after one or two iterations, you would enjoy the process. You would also know the common issues in your first sprint. Many projects treat the first sprint as Sprint-0 or a test sprint. Agile has been famous for delivering fast results with gradual improved productivity. Try it in your career and see if it works for you. You just need discipline.
Let us know if you have any other mind-blowing idea to achieve your career goals with satisfactory results.