What do footballers and engineering leaders have in common? They both like to score goals! Whether it’s on the field or in the tech world ⸺ scoring goals = success.
Setting clear, actionable goals is necessary to drive success for every organization. That’s why, setting OKRs is probably the first thing you learn in Engineering Management 101. As we all know, OKRs are a pretty popular framework for setting and tracking goals.
But let's talk about the new kid on the block– NCTs (Narrative, Commitments, Tasks). This new goal-setting framework is quickly gaining prominence for its uniqueness and fresh approach,
In this article, we'll dive into both OKRs and NCTs. We’ll explore how each framework can be effectively implemented for different dev teams like front-end, back-end, DevOps, etc. Whether you're fine-tuning your current strategy or considering a new approach, this guide offers insights into both frameworks for you as an engineering leader to pick and choose as you please!
But first, let’s uncover what exactly NCTs are.
What are NCTs?
NCTs stand for Narrative, Commitments, and Tasks. It’s a framework proposed by Ravi Mehta as a way to set goals for teams. NCTs focus on three things: why we're doing something, what we plan to achieve, and how we'll do it, all within 3-4 months. It helps teams understand how their daily work connects to big company goals.
Narrative ("Why"): This is a short, clear story explaining the team's goal and why it's important. It helps everyone understand the reason behind the work.
Commitments ("What"): These are specific goals the teams aim to reach. Usually, a team should pick 3-5 of these goals each quarter. Commitments show how well the team is doing.
Tasks ("How"): These are the exact steps the team needs to follow to meet the commitments and achieve the narrative. Tasks can change as the work goes on and new variables are added into the mix. Success is measured by finishing these tasks and how they help reach the main goals.
OKRs and NCTs for Software Development Teams
Front-End Development Team
Goals for front-end teams should be focused on aspects that directly impact the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of the user interface and user experience. As an engineering manager, these are some OKRs and NCTs you can set for your front-end team:
Back-End Development Team
OKRs and NCTs for back-end teams should be tailored to focus on key areas such as system performance, data security, and cross-functional collaboration:
DevOps teams specialize in bridging the gap between software development and operations. Here are some of the key OKRs and NCTs you can set for them:
Quality Assurance (QA) Team
OKRs and NCTs for QA teams in tech companies focus primarily on product quality, process efficiency, and continuous learning. Setting actionable goals ensures the QA team's efforts contribute significantly to the organization's broader objectives. Here are some effective goals you might want to use for your QA team:
The security team handles everything from code security to infrastructure protection and compliance with security standards. Based on their responsibilities, here are some critical OKRs and NCTs you can establish:
Data Science and Analytics Team
OKRs and NCTs for data science and analytics team should focus on areas such as decision-making enhancement, data quality, management, and innovation in data science. These are some clear goals you can set for the team:
As an engineering manager, staying ahead of the curve is key. Embracing new methodologies like NCTs, alongside the tried-and-test OKRs, can potentially lead to impressive outcomes. That’s why, a creative approach would be combining these two techniques to get the best out of them.
You can use the narrative part of NCTs to show why each OKR matters, and by combining commitments with your objectives, you'll achieve goals that are easy to track and follow. This combination encourages a deeper understanding of the 'why' behind each objective, ensuring that your team is not only aligned with company goals but also motivated by them.
Ready to drive engineering success?