Setting objectives with the Objective Octopus!

How do you set objectives as a company?

That is a process that we’ve been reviewing over the last couple of weeks as we set our objectives for the next financial year. In the past, it’d be fair to say that it was primarily a process that’s done by the Senior Management Team who then sort of went to the wider business to seek feedback and guidance and look for engagement, ultimately, in terms of the objectives that we had set.

This year, we’re doing some things slightly differently and looking to continue our drive to be more bottom-up and collaborative, as a company. This has been heavily supported by Andy de Vale from WorkVisible who’s been almost an extension of the Space 48 team over the last couple of years.

Just really eye-opening some of the workshops and sessions that he’s run. So I’m really grateful and continue to be grateful for his guidance. But I want to go through today is the session that he ran on objective setting and particularly the objective octopus.

One of the fun things about this workshop is that, people were able to vote with their feet in terms of the projects that they want to be involved in and then work with the others in that team to identify what was actually going to be important for this objective.

And then they can sort of pick and choose things that they want to be involved in themselves. And so it’s not a question about how to get engagement at that point, once you’ve set your objectives and how do we get people involved in contributing to the objectives? Because they define them.

And clearly those people that have defined the things that are important are much more likely to get involved in and do them. So the Objective Octopus for the BigCommerce app initiative is what I want to take you through today. But a quick intro into what an Objective Octopus is. We have here a nice little graphic from Andy.

It’s a little bit similar to a goal tree, just a fun way of displaying it, is kind of how I see it. Where you have your ultimate outcome that you want to achieve, and so for us kind of a quick preview is that we want to be recognized as the leading BigCommerce app provider by the end of the year, which is, it will be quite a big feat if we manage to achieve it.

So I won’t let it all go to my head, but I really want this to be successful. So, what does that look like? That isn’t really measurable. And what do we need to get there? And so with this objective octopus, we get to break that down into critical success factors. So without these, the outcome is impossible to achieve, and that’s a real kind of guiding light into things that we are then picking.

So we know that we’re only picking the most important things. Then armed with that list. We can break each one of those down into further necessary conditions or necessary elements. So by the end, you sort of built up a to-do list from small item to big item to overall objective. And it’s very clear whether or not, an idea that you come up with actually is working its way towards achieving this overall objective. Rather than the alternative, which is: Oh, cool. We’re building BigCommerce apps and then everybody contributes ideas. We’ve got no way of whittling them down to the things that are important or prioritizing them in MoSCoW.

It just, it’s very hard to organize and set criteria for what’s important or not. This way we can as a team agree, what’s important. And if things come up later, do they fit in into each one of these buckets? Is it going to help our critical success factors come to fruition?

So I guess a quick preview on how we see it, right now. Again, building kind of this in public. We want to launch five paid apps. So we want to show our commitment to the BigCommerce ecosystem, get through that cycle of building apps over and over to try and get better at them recognizing that we’re not going to put all of our eggs in one basket and don’t see that as a way to being successful.

We want the revenue to cover a full-time team member at the end of the year. Right now, it’s me working full-time and then other people committing what time that they have. We’re not looking for this to kind of turn a profit in the short term, but obviously we’re a company, we want this to live on for many years.

In which case, it needs to earn its keep. There’s also a way that we want to do this. Anybody that knows me, knows that I really enjoy kind of getting stuck in into the weeds and finding out what problems other people are having. And the best way of learning a platform is getting stuck into the forums, getting stuck into the Slack groups and channels and seeing what problems people are having and trying to solve them.

Because going through that cycle of what are the pain points? What are the challenges? Is the best way to learn a platform. If you increase the number of experiences that you have in any situation, the number of times you experience them, the quicker you’re going to learn.

And I also believe that that way of sharing our learnings, I don’t want to be this sort of isolated team where everything that we learn is just ours and is our sort of profit center. And it is our benefit. We want to share along the way because we believe that the better the ecosystem does, whether that’s BigCommerce or whether that’s Magento or ecommerce as a whole, that’s only going to help us in the long run as well,

and it just feels like the right thing to do. We also want to offer world-class support. So obviously as an agency and coming from that background, the service-side business then customer services is paramount. So I feel like we’ve already got a little bit of a headstart on that one, but we also recognize that managing and supporting an app is going to be different.

And so we want to make sure that we consider each of that and make sure that we can offer a great support to our customers. We also in terms of the size, we want to get to 100 customers. That’s kind of a target. That’s in my head right now. It’s achievable. I just, don’t no idea how quickly that we’ll be able to achieve that.

But I wanted to put a stake in the ground and try and get to that a hundred customers number as soon as possible. So that’s a quick run through of where our octopus is up to date right now. We then have broken each one of those down into their own octopuses or, pretty sure it’s octopuses and not octopi.

So we can actually build up that to-do list. So for each one of those, we have another octopus. And then as a team and an objective team for those that are either hands-on or hands-off, we can get together at the very least monthly and share updates along the way in terms of our progress in each of these areas.

And so, this is, I was already excited about this objective and kind of getting into the space but opening this up and getting more people involved has taken this to another level. And I’m really excited about what we’re working on. I’m really keen to see what we achieve this year.

Tom Robertshaw
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