Goal management is the foundation for success
Any company founder or C-level executive knows how important it is to manage company goals. Clear goals are the foundation of the company’s success, especially when they are understandable not only for top management but also for each team member.
For quite some time we at HRMNY were working with company goals using a pretty standard system. We set 5-year goals, then focused on things we needed to achieve in the next year, then planned each quarter as a set of monthly sprints. It looked as follows: 5 YEARS → 1 YEAR → QUARTER 1 → 1 MONTH SPRINT.
This structure is the same (with some slight variations) for different companies.
We realised this system lacks a human touch, making it hard to sell the goals to the team. With time goals change, teammates start to lose focus and perspective, and goals vanish, making this structure hard to maintain.
Is there a chance we can design something better? We believe there is. That’s why we decided to look at company goal management from a different perspective. HRMNY introduces REES (stands for Resources Efforts Environment State)—a framework to set, change, monitor, and achieve company-wide goals. A framework where we put team members first, because they are the ones who do the actual hands-on work to achieve goals.
REES framework explained
Now let’s dive a bit deeper into the abbreviations. As mentioned earlier, REES stands for Resources, Efforts, Environment, and State. But to understand everything more clearly, we need to flip the abbreviation backward and start with S—the State. Yes, we could have named our framework SEER but decided that REES sounds much better. So, let’s take a look at each element.
The state is your company’s shape/position/condition (pick any analogy you like) you want to achieve. This is basically the company’s goal reflected in the way it feels. Here, we are looking at HOW DO WE WANT TO FEEL (ourselves or regarding the external environment) instead of WHAT DO WE WANT TO GET.
To make it more practical, we will use our recent fundraising goal as an example. Before REES our goal sounded like “Close HRMNY seed round of funding”.
This is a pretty much clear goal from one perspective, but doesn’t actually relate to the team. In the REES framework, we have transformed this goal into “People want to invest millions in HRMNY”.
Our goal “Close HRMNY seed round of funding” became a state “People want to invest millions in HRMNY”. Can you feel the difference? The latter (the state) resonates much more with the team: it’s more explanatory, you can relate yourself to it even if you are not working on this personally.
Environment stands for the products, processes, materials, channels, etc. you should have around your company that supports the state. By changing the environment you achieve the state. Simple. An environment consists of five main parameters (this might vary a bit from company to company):
- People—who do you need to have onboard
- Processes—what kind of processes should be implemented
- Materials—what kind of supporting/production materials you should have
- Skills—what skills you should have (not people, because skills can be outsourced)
- Tools—what kind of tools/products you should build or purchase
When you define the perfect environment for achieving your desired state, you fully describe your goal.
Another example: If you remember, in the previous section we took the following state as an example: “People want to invest millions in HRMNY”.
What kind of environment should we have, so that people would want to invest millions of dollars? Again, very simple from this perspective. We have to have the following environment:
- People—credible founder’s profile
- Processes—clear process to approach investors
- Materials—pitch deck, use cases, business model
- Skills—artificial intelligence & machine learning
- Tools—publicly available product demo
This is not a full description, but rather an example to give you a reference of how the environment works in the REES model. Let’s continue.
This is where you get your hands dirty. It is the actual effort you need to put in to change your environment in a way it leads to your desired state. Those are the projects & solutions you work on to make a change. In our case, we call them solutions and do them in a 4-week sprint to roll-out something new that contributes to the environment change.
Again, let’s look at our previous example. State: “People want to invest millions in HRMNY”, one of the things we need to change in our environment is “to have publicly available demo”. That’s why we created a project “HRMNY.AI MVP available for the public”. This is the solution that changes our environment and contributes to the state.
This one is quite simple. Resources are people, skills, finances, etc. you have at your disposal to support your efforts. Resources contribute to both efforts and the environment.
How REES actually works
We have discussed pieces of the REES puzzle, but the real magic starts when we look at how these pieces are interconnected. This is the practical side of the story. Again, we will start with S—State.
Tensions between S(tate) and E(nvironment) convert into stories
When you set a state you want to achieve, you start noticing that your current environment isn’t actually supporting this. We call it tension. Tensions between the desired state and your current environment are STORIES. Take a look at the picture below.
Stories are the big chunks of work that need to be done to change your environment. And there can be many stories for each state you focus on. Each story is way too big to tackle it right away, so your job is to pick the most promising stories to focus on.
Solutions designed and efforts required identified
Once you’ve picked your story to focus on, you can start generating solutions that can solve it and estimate the required efforts. Again, there can be many solutions for each story. In our case, we pick 3-4 solutions per story where we limit our efforts with a 4-week sprint. See the illustration below.
Resource estimate for each solution
Once the solution list is ready, you need to make a preliminary estimate of the resources required to actually deliver the solution. As there might be many solutions that might have the same impact on the story, we use simple time limitations (can it be done in the next 2 weeks?) to assess and allocate resources without significant overbookings and conflicts.
Solutions transform into projects and epics
As a result, we have a clear project list (estimated solutions with allocated resources) for the next sprint. And most importantly, they are all connected to the big goal—the state you want to achieve. In our case, we create a list of Jira Epics with team leaders and detailed tasks description.
The full REES picture
The REES cycle is very simple and can be easily explained to any team member. It adds transparency and clarity on where the company is going on all levels, from strategy to execution. From an employee perspective, it also brings in an understanding of how he/she contributes to the company goal. See the full picture of the REES model in action below.
We at HRMNY started to use REES during summer of 2020 and it’s been going great so far. If you are considering using this framework or have some feedback or ideas for improvements, just drop us a line and let’s talk.