Agile Goal Setting – Climbing the Ladder of Success One Rung at a time

Picture of ladders
Ladder of Success made in 3d software

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year where many of us take a good hard look at ourselves in the mirror and realize that aren’t quite satisfied at what we see. We set goals to better ourselves. Now here’s a bummer…According to US News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is about 80%, with most losing resolve by mid-February.

For many organizations, goal setting is akin to a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. The only difference is that unlike our waistlines, we want our employees to grow. We want them to add value to our business and in turn have their goals align to and support our organizations goals and commitments to leadership and shareholders. Every year starts out with renewed optimism and the best of intentions. As the year progresses, focus is lost, commitment wanes and we end up ditching our salads for the drive through and instead of unleashing our true potential, our shiny new Peloton becomes a glorified laundry rack.

By now, even first-time managers are familiar with the SMART acronym pertaining to goal setting, but ensuring goals adhere to these criteria is not enough. A common reason why goal setting often doesn’t work, or yield the desired results, is that goals are too broad and the timeline to achieve them is too far off in the future.  We live in an agile world.  One where work can be broken down into epics, stories, and tasks. Treat your goals the same way. It’s Ok to have a broad or overarching goal, but break down a work plan to achieve that goal. 

Tips to Goal setting (beyond SMART):

  • Pick 2-3 of your organization’s goals for the year
  • How can your team aid in achieving those goals?  What role do you play?
  • Make sure your team knows what these goals are and why they are important
  • Break team goals down to the individual level
  • Challenge each member of the team to break down the task list needed achieve these goals
    • Each task needs to be able to be accomplished within a given work week (20-30 mins a day)
      • If it will take longer than that, it needs to be broken down into smaller sub-tasks
  • Continually follow up, measure, provide feedback and hold accountable to the process

“Unwavering incremental change can create remarkable and monumental results.”- Ryan Lily

At Capstone, we work with our partners to build and manage a program that optimizes individuals’ contributions and focuses on synergy; where the whole of the team is greater than the sum of its parts. Our methodology strengthens cross-functional development, challenges, holds individuals accountable, and continually raises the bar in regards to performance and efficiency. If you’d like more information or help with your team achieving maximum potential, contact us at