In January, along with millions of other people, I intend to set myself some goals to achieve before the end of the year.

I know that many people go through this exercise of goal setting, and not always for the same reasons.  For me, I’ve found that aiming big and missing, is better than aiming small and hitting your target.  (Aiming small and missing your target is even worse, obviously!)

I also think it is perfectly ok for me to change one of my goals during the year if I stop being excited by it.  I find the mental process of having set a goal to be the valuable bit.  Just having thought about where I want to be in a year’s time is something I find useful throughout the year .  It’s a bit like being an explorer and using a compass to keep you going in the right direction.  No explorer or adventurer would ever set out with out first knowing where he wanted to go!

[Tweet “Goal Setting … no explorer would ever set out without an idea of where they wanted to go.”]

Start with the end in mind

Explorers always start with the end in mind – they know where they want to go.

It’s true they may not get all the way there….

Courtesy of NASA via

Courtesy of NASA via

Think of the crew of the Apollo 13 mission who set out for the moon, and came tantalising close, but ultimately were just lucky to make it back to earth alive.  They never made their target, but they achieved so many things they couldn’t have imagined when they set out.

It is also true that an explorer may find something entirely different to what they set out to find….

Machu Picchu, courtesy of Scott Umstattd via

Machu Picchu, courtesy of Scott Umstattd via

Think about when Hiram Bingham stumbled upon Macchu Picchu in 1911.  He was actually looking for Vilcabamba at the time.  Instead he found one of the most iconic man-made structures the world has ever known.

So, its about having a target. It needs to be big, exciting, and for me, slightly intimidating!  That way, even if I miss my target, I should still be pleased with what I have achieved.

But I do have a bit of a problem:  I’m, not good at thinking really big.

I can do big-ish.  Just not epic.  I think the fear gets to me 😉

Guessing that I am probably not alone in this, I thought about ways to help our community of Scrum Masters.  They also might want to set themselves some big goals before they set out to explore next year.

Start with the end in mind

Now, we are at the end of our current year.  If we had done this exercise this time last year, right now we would be looking at a pile of achieved goals we had set ourselves.  At the very least, we’d be looking at a pile of great achievements.

So…I wanted to think about what have we achieved this year?

What have you achieved this year?  Do you even know?

We thought this was a great question to ask our Scrum Masters!  In essence, let’s each look back over this year and see what things we have done.

Gathering Our Equipment

We decided to offer each Scrum Master some time to help them retrospect over their own personal journey that year.  It wasn’t compulsory, but everyone was up for it, which was a good start.

And then, we thought some more about how we could best facilitate this.

In my experience, people tend not to be good at praising themselves.  We need to celebrate our achievements, but humans also re-adjust our idea of ‘normal’ frequently.  This means that what would have been the source of immense pride to achieve in say March, is uninspiring & run-of-the-mill by October.

So to mitigate this, we carefully constructed some questions to help prompt thinking about what each person had learned.  (We then had to edit them heavily, down to just 6, because we wanted it to feel like a helpful exercise and not an exam!)  Our objective was to help them tease out this evidence.

We were pleased with our questions, but we still had 1 last reservation.

Unrelated, but equally likely to get in the way of success, is the tendency for busy people to prepare just half an hour before they talk it through with us.This is not usually a problem, but we were worried people would focus answers on the recent month or 2 rather than from the whole year.

We needed it to take them a bit longer, and allow their brains to think back many more months.  So we slightly changed the questions.  We turned “what was your biggest success as a Scrum Master?” into “What have been your 4 biggest successes as a Scrum Master this year?”

This seems to have done the trick. We’re now half way through our team of Scrum Masters I am having the most fun listening to awesome people describe cool stuff they have done.  They often sound slightly bewildered!  Its as if they can’t believe they are talking about themselves!

Personal Retrospectives for the year.

So these are the questions we have asked Scrum Masters to reflect on, and please feel free to join in and answer them for yourself.  (You can even send them to me, I love hearing about what people have done to make them proud of themselves!)

Over the last 12 months (not the last 2 months) what have been your:

  •  4 Biggest Scrum Master Success Moments
  • 3 Biggest “Tried, and Learned” (or “Epic Fails”!)
  • 5 Ways your team(s) is/are better now than it was a year ago
  • 4 Ways you are better now than you were a year ago
  • 2 Things I can’t believe I used to think
  • What 5 things may you an amazing Scrum Master

During January, I’ll write part 2 of this post about setting some new, BIG goals for yourself for next year.  (I know I said I’m not so good with BIG goals, but that’s to do with my imagination, rather than my approach ;).  Your goals can be as big as you can imagine – and they should be bigger than you are comfortable with!)