An important part of my role as a Team Manager at Allegro is to be a people manager for Team Leaders. So the topic of setting goals (for teams and for my leaders) is an important one. Sometimes goals and expectations are pretty straightforward – there are some numbers to reach and that is it. But some things worth achieving can’t be expressed using numbers so easily. Think about the goal “we want the team to be more active during meetings” or “learn technology X”. So, basically with soft skills and such, it is usually much harder to set a numeric goal.
Imagine You Have Superpowers
One technique that can be of help is the “parallel universe” idea. I think I learned it from the “How To Measure Anything” book by Douglas Hubbard (but then I encountered some variants of this on the net). Anyway, the idea is quite simple. Imagine that you are able to clone and tweak the existing world. World A is the world you are living in right now, and it continues as it is – no change introduced. In world B the change you wanted (e.g. “team members participate in the meetings more actively”) has already happened. Besides, there are no differences between the two worlds.
Now the question is, what would you observe in world B that would not happen in world A? What would the difference be?
This kind of mental experiment helps me to think about the observable outcomes. What would be different? Would people ask more questions during meetings? Would there be less meetings (because the existing ones would be more effective)? Would they be longer (because of more questions and ideas discussed) or maybe shorter (because all participants would be prepared)? Or maybe there would be more feedback regarding the way our meetings are organized and facilitated? Would people stop complaining about the meetings? Would they stop coming late? Hmm….
Well, something surely would change.
Now based on whatever you decided would be an observable change you need to figure out how to measure it. But that is another story (hint: this blog post about LAG and LEAD measures might help). Also, you might want to check this blog post which shows how to work with soft skill goals end-to-end.
That was my magic trick. Now what is yours?
So, I hope I added another tool to your toolbox: a parallel universe. I would be very happy to learn similar techniques that help to deal with seemingly unmeasurable things. Any hints?