Goal is not enough we need lead objectives

Scrum with it’s daily stand-up’s, personal commitments and the focus on visibility was what made me think “this is fantastic”.

LTP with its ease of Logical analyse to identify what to change to reach the goal and visualizing everything in easily read trees (Logical Thinking Process), this made me think “amassing, so simple”.

Visualizing the most important goals your team has and how you perform to it is one of the most important thing you can do to create an engaged team and reach your goals!

In this article, I have put together my thoughts of how to visualize and execute the goal what I call Goal Execution.

The key ingredients are;

  • We need clear goals with measurements
  • We need a scoreboard to track our progress
  • We need maximum 1-3 lead objectives that we own and can influence (we can control them)
  • We need weekly team follow-up meetings (15-30 minutes)
    • Updating score board, based on result from your personal commitments
    • Commit to new personal commitments
    • The score board shows if we are winning or losing
  • We need to Change our habits a habit take about 3 month to change

This is about making the team engage in the game and commit to the success.

You will in a second say that this is nothing new, but I bet that if you look back to last year’s goals, and where you are now how much was actually meet?

Do you know why this happened? One reason is team commitment another is focusing on too many things, which means team cannot focus.

My idea is simple, it is about focus on the objectives that has most benefits to the business.

By focusing on the most important objectives makes both the team and the company a winner.

Are we winning or losing the game?

In scrum we have the burn down chart visualizing how good we are performing and if we will reach our goal. The goal is reached when we have done the stories we have committed us to deliver during this sprint.

Why is this burn down chart so important?

For product owner, it shows in a simple form the probability for success and offers also input to future planning.

From a team perspective, the chart shows the score board of the game, are we winning or are we losing.

In scrum the team meets every day in the daily stand up, each person presents the success or failure of their commitment from last day, they decide on the new commitment for the next day.

Failing to a commitment make it more likely that the team will lose the game, to mitigate this the team must work harder and together solve the blockers to improve and keep up with the needed delivery speed. If they do not do this, they will lose the game.

The burn down chart is the score board of the game and focusing on winning is stimulating people to deliver.

If you go to a football game and do not have a score board, what do you think will happen?

Without the scores it does not matter how the game goes as you do not count the scores.

Adding scores creates the stimulation which makes you focus on success.

During the daily stand up in scrum, team members updates the scoreboard and get an immediate feedback on their performance.

Another thing that happens on the daily stand up is the personal commitment to deliver, a personal commitment make you personally responsible for the team’s success and if you fail you effects the team negatively.

I do not know anything better to secure a delivery than when a person in a team commits to all the other team members that the delivery will happen.

Goal measurement

A good goal should state where we are heading in a clear way.

My recommendation is that a Goal is a full sentence and it contains a measurement for success and a time limit.

A good goal shall contain;

  • What we shall achieve
  • Where we are now
  • Where we shall be
  • When we shall be there

It must also be clear how we have measured our current value as this method should be the same for measuring our progress.

Without measurement, you are blind and do not know how it goes and if you have reached the goal.

Goal is not enough we need lead objectives

In almost all cases you cannot affect the goal directly, you must find the areas you control that have effect on the Goal.


To illustrate this in a very simple example, our goal is to lose weight.

I select it as it is simple to explain and very generic.

My goal is to lose weight from 90 kg to 80 kg before end of the year (8 months from now).

This is a clear and simple goal and it is easy to measure the progress and if we reach the goal or not at the end of the year.

But this do not help me, stepping up on the bathroom scale will not tell me how I shall change how many kg it shows.

The goal is the end of the journey, we need to find other objectives that we control and that has impact on reaching the goal.

This objectives are lead objectives, the name comes from that they are leading you to the goal.

To find the Lead objectives we need to find what is causing the current weight, we can build a current reality tree, a cause and effect tree to find the objectives we are in control of and can change.

The nice thing with current reality tree is that it is easy to validate and you can read it from top to bottom and from bottom to top with different simple phrases between them.

Reading from bottom to top “if this happens, then this will happen and then this will happen”.

Before we do the current reality analyst we need to complement the goal with some more details (a Goal Tree).

Let’s identify the causes of weight and create a Goal Tree;

We ask our self, what is directly affecting the weight?

  • Amount of calories we eat
  • Amount of calories the body burn without exercise
  • Amount of exercise

How much calories we eat and how much exercise we do looks like the two best areas to dive deeper in.

When you do your analyse do not analyse everything, select the areas that you believe are where you will be most successful in.

The areas you select must lead you to something you and your team is in control over and has big effect on the goal.

The amount of calories we eat how can we measure that? It’s not easy, as we need to capture information of everything we eat and drink, but we can analyse if we have a bad behaviour here that we can influence.

Amount of exercise is easier to measure as there is a lot of phone apps that measure this.

We need some more facts, a visit to one of the sites helping people lose weights I got this calculation;

  • Your activity level is 1.2
  • Your goal is to lose 22 lb / 10 kg in 240 days.
  • Your Basic Metabolic Rate is 1815.44 calories
  • Your daily calorie needs based on your current activity level is 2179 calories
  • To reach your goal, you will need to reduce your daily calorie intake by 315 calories.

A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, which means, to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, you need to burn off 500 to 1,000 calories more per day than you consume — or between 3,500 and 7,000 calories per week.

This gives us the information we need, decrees number of calories we eat daily with 315 or increase our daily exercise with 400 calories per day.

This small analyse identified two areas that we are in control of and which has a direct impact on the goal outcome.

In above picture I have defined the goal and the two critical success factors we have to reach the goal.

We only have to fulfil one critical success factor to make the weight loss, but we can also combine them.

Current Reality Tree

Now we must to identify why we are not losing weights, creating a current reality tree will help us understand this.

Best way to create current reality tree is to rewrite the goal and critical success factor to describe what is preventing them from happen.

Next step is to break them down into everything that is causing them until we get to the root cause level.

Above picture is simplified, but I have identified 5 root causes.

When you do it you will is need more levels in the tree before you find the root causes.

Do validate your logic, have you really found the root causes and is the is the boxes really causing the parent box.

Read the tree out loud, if it sound bad then there is an issue, use if this I happen then this is happening.

Some root causes cannot be effected, so ignore them.

The root causes that you can effect directly are the ones you shall focus on.

Lead objective

The lead objective is where we and the team shall focus on, it can be on one of the root causes or one of its parents.

Select the lead objective as close as you can to the goal, but it must be something we are in full control over.

A lead objective must always be positive sentence, something we shall strive to accomplish.

The node in the Current reality try must be rewritten to a positive term that we can reach.

In our example, we select the two lowest undesired effects, and as they were a rewrite of the critical success factors we simply will take the critical success factors as our lead objectives.

A lead objective must meet following criteria;

  • Something we and the team are in control over
  • It can be measured
  • It has a direct influence on the Goal

When we have defined the measurement and the expectation we are ready to contribute to this measurement our lead objectives.

We do this my making personal commitment, a task or activity that have influence on the lead objective.

Personal commitment influencing the lead objective

We now have a lead objectives exercise 400 calories per day or reduce the calories intake by 315 calories, I know how I can measure it but I have not decided on an action that will influence the lead objectives.

What we need is a personal commitment; what can I commit to that is measurable and that I know will influence my lead objective?

My commitment is to walk 10000 steps 6 days per week this is about 400 calories per day spread out of 7 days is about 370.

Do not commit to more than 1-3 actions to secure that we are focused?

Multi-tasking is not good, so maximum 3 commitments.

Having few commitments makes you more focused, and makes it more likely that you can deliver on them.

With more than 3 commitments you will very likely fail on at least one of them.

If you make your personal commitment to the team, they and you will hold you responsible for that it is delivered.

The key is to create the attitude of that a commitment is holy and given with honour and should not easily be broken.

You need to commit to something but and you must deliver it.

How long shall I continue doing my action

We want to create a sustainable change, my example has a personal perspective, but the same applies to most situation in business as well, we want to change our behaviour and habits.

Changing a habit takes about 3 months, my recommendation is that you continue doing your action until it has changed your behaviour.

In other situation, you continue doing your action until it has reached its result, some actions are one timers other must be repeated until they become a habit.

My scoreboard tracking if we are winning

We need a scoreboard to see how it goes am I winning or losing.

My scoreboard will have 3 measurements;

– my weight

– two lines showing the two alternative lead objectives

– amount of calories I have burned with exercise

– amount of calories not consumed that I usually consume

They together must get me to 100% of the daily calorie decrease or the extended calorie burn.

The scoreboard is a place to gather around, make it clearly visible for your team and also to the other teams so they know what you are focusing on and how well it goes for you.

Follow up your commitments, weekly stand up

We need to follow up our personal commitment, am I losing or winning?

Follow up is best done together with your team, in this simple case I am responsible against myself, but I could invite my family and commit to them, and I know my family will let me know if I am failing.

If I have failed I will have to make it up and doing twice as much till next day.

It’s vital that you gather your team around the scoreboard, and report how well you have fulfilled your commitment and update the scoreboard with the result you have done.

Make this your game, and make sure everyone in the team want you to win.

At this meeting, you should not discuss anything else that the scoreboard result, and your commitments, focus on it.

At this meeting announce your new commitment that you will be doing until next meeting, and commit them both to yourself and the team.

Hold the meetings at least one time per week.


The challenge is in making the team members committing to the lead objective and to commit to their personal commitments.

Make the team engaged by making them responsible for the analyse, breaking down the goal and identifying what must be done to meet the goal, and out of all objectives select 1-3 lead objectives that you find the most important to work with.

Do not select more than 3 it will make your team unfocused.

A lead objective must by an objective that your team has full control over.

Make the team design the scoreboard.

Setup weekly follow up meetings, and make everyone commit to at least one activity that they shall report back on following meeting.

Do not forget to inspire the team to cooperate and help each other.

If you are the manager, you also must make your personal commitments, select commitments that is related to your responsibility as a manager, it can be solving problems so the team can perform their commitments easier.

  • Identify the goals
  • Clarify the goal by making it a clear sentence it must cover following
    • What we shall achieve
    • Where we are now
    • Where we shall be
    • When we shall be there
  • Create your reality tree, by asking what is the last things that will make the goal happen. If you read the tree from top, it shall sound like this.
    • In order for <goal> we must <below objectives>
  • Break down the goal until you found the key objectives you control that is effecting the goal.
  • Out of all of them select 1-3 objectives that you shall focus on, it can be based on that they have the biggest effect or that they are the things you most likely can meet in a short time.
    • We have our lead objectives.
  • Secure that you have a clear definition of the lead objectives.
  • Create the score board
    • You must include the metrics for the goal, and the lead objectives
  • Agree on how often you shall meet to follow up on the score board
  • Decide on a start date, and let everyone know that they must commit to at least one personal commitment that will affect the scoreboard.

During the score board follow up meetings, validate that the commitments done will have effect on the lead objectives, if not discuss and improve them.

I also recommend that you have a separate meeting every second week in the team, a retrospective during this meeting you analyse how you worked as a team, and ask 3 questions;

  • What shall we continue doing
  • What shall we stop doing
  • What must we start doing


Do not forget to celebrate when you have done good, anything extra should be celebrated to stimulate the team to perform even better.

Good luck

If you liked this, I recommend having a look at my other articles they will give you complementing insight.

If you found this interesting have a look at my other article https://www.linkedin.com/in/maxboreback/recent-activity/posts/

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