2 min read

I find myself not paying attention to epics and discussions unless I know the WHY. I literally zone out. Start checking emails and Slack. Half listening for my name or something critical. Before I work on anything that will take more than a day I want to know who’s “paying” for it (the sponsor) and what are the measurable benefits (metrics).

A sponsor is typically a customer or business but it could also be an executive who’s vouching for the success of the project that will unlock other projects. Metrics are something measurable like time, money, database records, etc. Nothing worse than being stuck with a project that nobody wants and/or nobody can prove its usefulness.

As soon as I hear the WHY, I get lazer focused. The why should contain at least 1 measurable outcome, a key result. I might say something like “Oh, we’re trying to save $100K/year? I see.” or “Wait, that will open up a new partnership for us? How much revenue? Awesome!”

The Epic/Ticket title is the objective. The WHAT. We often spend too much time talking about the what and how without having a solid understanding of the why. The why is what drives us. The why is what keeps us going when things become difficult. This is true both personally and professionally.

Once I have this information, I try to put it in a template. I like to push templates to the limit. For example, I often abstract the User Story Template for tasks, where the “user” is actually another machine. The format is: “[Actor] can [Action] so that [Results]”.

  • Actor: Person or machine initiating the action
  • Action: The behaviour the actor will initiate
  • Result: The observable effect of this action occurring

Last week I experimented with OKRs for Epics. The Objective should be the in the format of “[Task] so that [Results]”.

  • Task: The action that will occur
  • Result: The observable effect of this task taking place

Using the examples above we might have something like:

  • Automate workflfow X to save team Y $100k/year
  • Add feature X to facilitate $2M partnership with company Y

Key results are important yet difficult to select so I will need to continue working on this.

Written on December 5, 2022

The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect any individual or organization from my past or present.


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