What is a goal?

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Goals in Atlassian represents the outcomes that multiple projects or streams of work contribute to. Goals usually take a longer period of time to achieve, and can be represented by various frameworks, such as OKRs, KPIs, SMART goals, and more.

A goal's main page in Atlassian

Goals have a dedicated page where updates are shared monthly, and also communicates several key pieces of information about each goal:

  • Goal name

  • The owner, or the individual person responsible for driving the goal forward

  • Contributing teams

  • Linked items, such as sub-goals, projects, and Jira epics

  • Highlights in the goal’s progression, such as learnings, risks, and decisions

  • Start date and target date

Why create a goal?

Atlassian goals aim to solve a common pain point for many teams: communication. Goals are set at all levels of an organization, but without the right transparency and communication, it can be hard to see how any one person’s day-to-day work contributes to their team and organization’s goals.

Consolidating goal information into a single page that anyone can view and read updates on is one way to resolve these communication pain points. Rather than spending synchronous meeting time in “status update” meetings, teams can start using goals to communicate status asynchronously at the same, expected time each month. Establishing this consistent pattern for updates puts everyone on the same timeframe and aligns expectations for communicating progress.

Creating a goal

To create a goal:

  1. Go to Atlassian Home.

  2. Select the Create + button at the top of the screen.

  3. Select the Goal option from the list of options.

  4. Enter a descriptive name for the goal. Be sure to include any significant indicators, such as goal level (e.g. O / KR)

  5. Choose an owner for this goal. By default, the person creating the goal is set as the owner.

    1. The owner is responsible for setting up goal details, such as the About section. They are also responsible for adding teams, followers, writing the monthly update, and ensuring its status (e.g. On track, Off track, At risk) and target date are accurate.

  6. Select the Create button once you’ve entered in the required fields.

Once the goal is created, you are taken to the goal page where you can add more details, link projects and Jira epics, add tags, invite followers, and more.

How goals work

Goals are created with a minimum of three pieces of information: the name of goal, the owner, and the date or time period you want to achieve this goal by. Then, the owner gives monthly updates on the goal and how it’s progressing.

Goal owners are sent a reminder to write their update on the first day of each month, with the updates due for release a week later. Goal followers are then notified of the latest update on the 8th of each month.

Using sub-goals

Goals can also have sub-goals, which are functionally the same but represent a more hierarchical structure and can be used to model goals according to various frameworks.

To add a sub-goal, select the button on the right sidebar of any goal page.

A goal in Atlassian highlighting the sub-goal section of the sidebar.

You can also create goals depending on the framework you use. For example, the OKR framework (Objectives and Key Results) is one of the most common goal frameworks.

  • Objectives are what you want to accomplish - they should be significant, concrete, action-oriented, and inspirational.

    • Limit the number of company-level Objectives to between 1 to 3. Anything more than that will lead to confusion among teams and department heads.

  • Key Results are specific, time-bound ways you reach those objectives - the how.

    • Limit the number of Key Results to between 2 to 5 per Objective. Less than 2 KRs doesn't make sense, and anything more than 5 can be hard to achieve and manage.

Adding an owner and followers

By default, the person creating the goal is set as the owner and added as a follower. The owner is responsible for setting up goal details, such as the About section. They are also responsible for adding teams, followers, writing the monthly update, and ensuring its status (e.g. On track, Off track, At risk) and target date are accurate.

Adding followers to your project is a great way to keep stakeholders and people outside of the working team in the loop. Followers can be anyone in your organization interested in your work and wants to read your updates in their weekly feed. The more followers you have for a project, the less likely you are to get pings about your project’s status or invitations to meetings to provide an update.

When determining who should be a follower, your manger, peers in your organization, and key cross-functional partners are great candidates to start with. These are usually the people who would want to know how things are going, and can now get your updates automatically.

Goal scoring

Goal scoring typically works best for those using the OKR framework to set and track their goals. OKRs are scored on a 0.0 to 1.0 scale and allow companies to measure performance towards top priorities.

  • A score between 0.0 or 0.3 means the company is off-track and not making real progress

  • A score of 0.7 or 1.0 indicates an OKR is on track and progressing as planned

  • 0.7 is what we consider our target goal. Anything more is knocking it out of the park.

Setting challenging and achievable goals is key to the success of OKRs. While easy goals are uninspiring, setting overly ambitious goals creates low motivation. It's important to find a balance and to review and refresh goals on a quarterly basis.

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