Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Applying the Agile Canonical Form to write Performance Goals

In most companies, employees have to do some level of performance management. This typically involves each person writing performance goals. For those of you in companies that are adopting Agile (or even if you are not), as you think about your performance goals, one of the things to consider is applying the Agile story writing canonical form as the approach to writing goal statements.

For those of you unfamiliar with the canonical form, it is a language construct that many in the Agile community use to document their requirements (aka, user stories). This includes the role (aka, persona or actor) you are playing, your action, and the business benefit.

In many cases, each of us has a primary role we play within an organization. However, we may also have secondary roles that we play. The canonical construct includes the role so the roles you are playing in your organization or your product team can be effectively added. This may help in describing your goal more effectively. For example:

• As a Scrum Team Member, I will size the work using story points with the team during Sprint Planning, so that we gain team buy-in for scope and size of the story

 • As a ScrumMaster, I will exemplify Servant Leader attributes (and not command-and-control attributes) in order to help my team become self-organized

 • As a Product Owner, I will continuously groom and prioritize the Product Backlog so that the Scrum Team has a solid list of stories in which to work through

 • As an Agile Coach, I will coach and mentor the product team so they can adopt effective Agile methods

 • As an Agile Educator, I will ensure effective Agile instructor-led training is occurring throughout the company

Once you have the performance goal written in this form, then you can list the tangible tasks that make up the goal underneath.  You may consider this another interesting way to use the canonical form (which is usually meant to describe User Stories within an Agile context) for other benefits.

In summary, it is a good idea within a performance goal to identify the role you will play in relation to that goal, what is the action you expect to complete, and why you plan to do that action (aka, business benefit).  Using the canonical form can be an effective way to articulate the performance goal. 


  1. Hi Mario Moreira
    Nice to see the article that speaks about Performance Goals for Agile Teams. This article is really good. Can you add few more article series on this topic which can help HR to come up with a performance evaluation form for Agile Teams.


    1. Hi Sivaram, Good idea (topics that can help HR). In the meantime, consider reading: which helps managers get insight into what their Scrum Team folks are doing. Cheers!

  2. Congratulations! This is the great things. Thanks to giving the time to share such a nice information.
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