Achieving Effective Goal Setting for Product Strategy

Aviral Vaid

Aviral Vaid

Jul 15, 20233 min read

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Achieving Effective Goal Setting for Product Strategy

Introduction:

In the fast-paced world of product strategy, setting meaningful goals is crucial for success. However, many organizations struggle with execution and fail to achieve their desired outcomes. This article explores the concept of goal-setting and introduces a three-part framework called NCTs (Narratives, Commitments, and Tasks) that can help teams set better goals and align their strategies for optimal results.

The Perfection Paradox and Vulnerability:

The pursuit of perfection in supply chains and processes may seem like the ideal approach, but it often leads to increased vulnerability. History has shown us that disruptions are inevitable, and the more perfect a system becomes, the more vulnerable it is to any disruption. Therefore, it's important to strike a balance between efficiency and resilience to ensure sustainable growth.

The Complexity of Goal-Setting:

Setting goals is a complex process that requires a clear understanding of strategy, thoughtful decision-making, and the ability to create a pragmatic plan. Teams need to answer fundamental questions such as what they are trying to achieve, why it matters, and how they can get there. This complexity often leads to wishful thinking and ineffective execution.

The NCT Framework for Effective Goal Setting:

To overcome the challenges of goal-setting, the NCT framework provides a comprehensive approach. It consists of three components: narratives, commitments, and tasks.

  • 1. Narratives: Narratives are concise qualitative descriptions of what the team or product wants to achieve in a quarter. They align the goals with the overall product and company strategies, providing a long-term perspective that reduces thrash and ensures focus.
  • 2. Commitments: Commitments are objectively measurable goals that the team commits to achieving within a quarter. They provide clarity on the next steps needed to make progress against the strategy. It is recommended to have roughly three to five commitments to maintain focus and avoid overwhelming the team.
  • 3. Tasks: Tasks outline the specific work that needs to be done to fulfill the commitments and achieve the narrative. While the list of tasks may evolve during the quarter, they provide a coherent and actionable plan for the team. Tasks help define milestones and resource requirements, ensuring progress towards the set goals.

Benefits of NCTs over OKRs:

While OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) have been widely adopted in tech companies for goal setting, they may not be suitable for cross-functional product teams. NCTs provide a more comprehensive framework that emphasizes the connection between goals and strategies. Narratives, commitments, and tasks work together to provide a clear roadmap for success.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Foster Collaboration: Instead of each function owning their own goals, encourage cross-functional teams to collectively set goals and co-own the outcomes. Collaboration is essential for success and requires a shift from competition to collaboration.
  • 2. Adaptability over Accountability: While tracking progress is important, focus more on adaptability. Teams should be able to evaluate their progress without fear of personal failure or punitive consequences. A supportive environment encourages teams to ask for additional support when needed.
  • 3. Tie Goals to Strategy: Ensure that your goals clearly tie back to your strategy by articulating what, why, and how. Choose the right type of goal (discovery, input, output, outcome) based on your product development stage. This alignment ensures that goals are meaningful and contribute to overall success.

Conclusion:

Achieving effective goal-setting in product strategy requires a comprehensive framework that aligns goals with strategies. The NCT framework, with its focus on narratives, commitments, and tasks, provides a clear roadmap for success. By fostering collaboration, prioritizing adaptability, and tying goals to strategy, teams can increase their chances of achieving meaningful and impactful goals. Remember, it's not about perfection but finding the right balance between efficiency and resilience.

Resource:

  1. "Casualties of Perfection", https://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/inefficient/ (Glasp)
  2. "Set Better Product Goals with NCTs — Reforge", https://www.reforge.com/blog/set-better-goals-with-ncts-not-okrs (Glasp)

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