The difference between goals and dreams.

[this seems to be some kind of preachy, life-coach article... stop me if i suck at this.]

Big projects often involve both goals and dreams. These two things are similar but different. One of my pet theories is that in a big project you need both dreams and goals, and you need to distinguish between them. Hey, I'm gonna make that into a subheading, so the skimmers will read it too...

In a big project you need both goals and dreams

That doesn't sound very agile does it? Big Dreams Up FrontTM?

Anyway, what's the difference between a dream and a goal?

Dreams are not Reality

Dreams are the slippery huge indescribblable stuff. The presence of big dreams is not a bad sign. This is the big picture that each version of the project will work toward. A lot of the marketing stuff you hear about a product is based on the dreams of the product, not the goals. Don't let this put you off the concept of dreams.

Goals are Reality

Goals, or targets, are actual concrete things that can be delivered. They have those five famous properties that make them "s.m.a.r.t." -- Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based. They are not infinite. They will be achieved with the version you are working on today. And you know when they will be released.

I need this delivered yesterday!!

When a goal becomes unrealistic -- it's no longer an effective goal. CHANGE IT! Bring the goal back into line with reality.

You have to be willing to drop features from a goal. Or failing that, to change the time frame, or the depth of the feature.

When a feature is dropped, it can be a blow to the motivation of the team that has been working on that feature. But it's easier to take the blow if you know that the feature is part of the dream, and may get its chance in subsequent releases. It isn't lost, just deferred.

I keep repeating myself

  • Goals are focused -- dreams are generalised
  • Goals are also known as Targets. Dreams are not so targeted.

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(By the way, I read every comment and often respond.)

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