Figure.NZ's goals and how we set them
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What are our goals?
We’re here to help everyone make sense of data and use it to create a better future for New Zealand.
It’s hard to measure this mission, because there are myriad ways the benefits from more people using data flow through communities. We’re focussed on these benefits, not on getting more people to click on our website.
We’ve identified two contributing measures for success that can act as proxies. They’re based on the main things we do. We believe if we achieve these proxies, we’re more likely to succeed in our core mission. We’ve picked 24 February 2022 for hitting our big goals for each of these, as it’ll be the 10th anniversary from Lillian first having the idea for Figure.NZ (you can read more about the origin story here).
|Functions||High-level measurements||Goals for 24 February 2022|
|Take New Zealand’s scattered, disparate, non-personal data, and standardise it to publish it in machine readable form in a centralised location||How much data have we published?||80% of New Zealand’s public, non-personal, aggregated Government data to be published by Figure.NZ|
|Make it easy and compelling for people to find and use New Zealand’s data||How many people are engaging with the data we have published?||Two million people each month engage with the data we’ve published|
These goals are a work-in-progress. Some important points:
- We’re going to give them our best shot, but we might alter them down (or up!) as we learn more about how fast we can run.
- The definition of each high-level measurement will change over time as teams work together to define the best measures.
- The purpose of these measurements is not to apply pressure or make us feel like we’ve failed. Rather, it’s to give us a foundation to make good decisions, and a goal to strive for
We work towards these measures using our goal-setting process, which is described further down the page.
How do we measure success?
There is a lot of autonomy within the Figure.NZ team and we expect everyone to participate in coming up with ideas and helping decide our priorities. Our mission and goals and their related functions and measurements are our north star to keep us moving in the right direction. You can find our latest objectives and how we are going against them in Trello on the #general board.
We have defined two main functions (what we do) and two supporting functions (how we do it) to achieve our mission, and the main activities they each involve.
What we do
This section explains our functions, goals, measures, and actions. It should be read as a part of our wider mission about why we’re here.
1. Take New Zealand’s scattered, disparate, non-personal data, and standardise it to publish it in machine-readable form in a centralised location.
How we achieve this:
- Establish overview of the NZ data landscape
- Build relationships with everyone who has the data
- Define best-practice standards for processing and publishing data
- Develop and evolve technology for processing and publishing data
- Process and publish data
2. Make it easy and compelling for people to find and use New Zealand’s data
How we achieve this:
- Create and evolve a delightful user experience for people to find and use data
- Enable easy distribution of content to other channels/platforms
- Promote the use of data
- Educate people about how they can use data
How we do it
3. Enable the best team to deliver the main functions on an ongoing basis
How we achieve this:
- Recruit and retain great people
- Ensure that they are empowered to help Figure.NZ towards the mission, specifically that they have the environment and tools they need to bring their best
- Give our people the freedom they want to create and execute on their ideas
- Check regularly that our people feel they are doing the right things, doing them well, and working well with others
- Ensure we have an internal planning system and processes that help us stay aligned and motivated with the minimum possible effort
4. Raise enough money to deliver the main functions on an ongoing basis
How we achieve this:
- Build strong relationships with organisations that are interested in supporting our vision of a country where everyone uses data in their daily lives
- Establish effective partnerships that increase our internal capability or give us new ways to get the data we collect out to users as well as generating revenue
- Update the budget monthly with a clear view of the cash position and good visibility over future revenues
Our objectives process
We run an annual process to set, progress and complete objectives for the whole team. The objectives focus on five areas:
- Get all the data and put it into a smart place.
- Change people’s behaviour so they want to and can use data.
- Surface data in compelling ways.
- Ensure a happy, healthy team.
- Create a sustainable future for our organisation.
The whole process is run through our General Trello board which is integrated into our #general Slack channel.
At the beginning of the calendar year we work together to identify and set objectives. Some of these objectives take the whole year, and others are finished earlier. The objectives are discussed and agreed by all of us, with the exception of Lillian exercising her veto right to remove, add or reorder objectives.
There is a two day whole team meeting in the first week of February. For the weeks prior to this meeting, every person is responsible for proposing objectives and setting up cards in the Proposed list on our General Trello board.
Annual objectives planning at Figure.NZ is done on a best-effort basis. This is a software industry term that means an agreement that something will be attempted without any guarantee provided that it will succeed. The term implies use of an improvised approach and extraordinary efforts in the context of challenging conditions or constraints. There is no punishment for incorrect estimates, and the purpose of the planning is to establish the relative priority of different streams of work, and show the tasks and their dependencies to other teams. It is both understood and accepted that the plan will be revised throughout the year.
In exchange for a blameless approach to objectives planning, we expect you to disclose all work you believe is important and honestly believe can be completed in the next 12 month period, to the best of your ability. We also expect you to participate in team and organisation goal-setting exercises and work towards a consensus that includes both the work that will be attempted, and the work we have agreed we do not have the resources to attempt within the planning period.
To propose cards:
- Think about and identify what Figure.NZ should achieve in the coming year that will best help us achieve our mission. Overall for the whole team we aim to have 15 or fewer objectives.
- Review the risk register and identify any objectives that should be based on or include risk items.
- Talk to people amongst your teams! It is best to share and refine objectives before all coming together so we can incorporate others’ thinking into the objectives, and get alignment with those who would be involved in working on the objective. The idea being that you have already talked to those who may need to be involved, had preliminary discussions on feasibility, possible requirements and potential benefits, and refined down the number of objectives. We want high quality cards and it’s fine to agree plans with other people in advance.
- Once you have identified objectives, set up a card for each in the Proposed list including the following:
- Title that succinctly sums up the theme of the card, e.g. Data structures or Behaviour change. This title should allow others to get a fair idea of the topic of focus for the objective.
- 1–2 sentences describing the goal of the objective at the top of the description field.
- A more thorough description of the objective below the goal with some idea of what the outputs and success may be.
- Checklists of all the actions required to achieve the objective, separated into multiple checklists as it makes sense to do so. For each checklist item tag in all the people involved.
- Add the face of those who have current actions only.
Discussing and agreeing objectives
The purpose of our two day session in the first week of February is to go through the proposed cards, agree which should proceed and figure out if the set of cards is realistic or not.
We don’t have clear timing for different parts of the session allocated as it is important we spend as long as we need on each card.
We go through each card individually as a team, and have an opportunity to ask questions of those proposing the card. Everyone needs to agree on a card before it progresses. If you disagree and are in the minority you can choose to either debate it in the room or quietly state your position and opt out of discussion further as a group. The next step will be for yourself and Lillian (or whoever you would like) to go into another space and discuss it, either immediately or later in the day.
If someone refuses to be involved in working on a specific card, that person also talks directly with Lillian to explain the situation in private. Having a rough understanding of possible workload and if that is feasible will be an important discussion.
Once we have got through all of the cards and agreed the set we then look at all of the cards collectively and discuss individuals’ workloads and broadly when each card could be done.
There is also an opportunity to further refine the card details - those involved, the checklist items etc.
If we do not have the people needed to complete all objectives in the year, then we either make a plan to get more people or we remove an objective.
By the end of the two days we will have:
- An agreed number of objectives.
- Owners assigned to each card.
- Faces on card are only those that need to complete the next action.
- Clear actions.
- An agreed time for when we will next catch up.
- An updated risk register.
Checklist items may become their own cards on appropriate team Trello boards or notes and details can be posted directly on the objective card. If you have created cards on your own board for an objective, link to the Objective card to ensure it is easy to follow and trace back. (Also, so it easier to understand progress, when linking to a card in a checklist, please type out the name of that card and and the link - it shows up more clearly in Slack.)
The current state of the card should be easy to determine on an ongoing basis:
- In the appropriate column on the board (To Do, Blocked, Doing, Done).
- Checklist is ticked off as completed or added to as necessary.
Every month we regroup on how we are going with objectives. This could be in person or remotely. Things to discuss during the meeting are:
- Any wins or achievements. What have we ticked off? Any new developments?
- Anything that may be blocking the next action. This could be just feeling stuck, a lack of resource or external forces - please make sure the Trello card is updated with it’s state.
- A review of the risk register and relevant objectives.
- Is there anything coming up regularly that is outside current objectives?
- Any news that may affect objectives, completion times or put an objective in jeopardy?
If substantial changes to objectives are proposed, everyone has 24 hours after the meeting to approach Lillian with any concerns before those changes are committed to.
The next meeting date will be determined here, and whether it will be in person or a call.
In December we will get together for an in-person team day, in conjunction with an end of year team celebration.
We start the day by going through objectives, celebrating how the year has gone and identifying what we have learnt for the following year.
Things to note
- Give people/teams a heads up as soon as you think you might need them to help achieve your objectives. This goes for during the year as well as when we first introduce objectives.
Celebrate our wins! Let’s get excited!! We have the cards integrated into Slack so we can see when things are done.
When things aren’t moving or going as planned get in touch with the relevant people or bring it up at the monthly meeting (if it can wait), otherwise talk directly to Lillian or Ngapera if you don’t know what to do.
- Everything we all do should be covered by the objectives. If you find yourself doing things outside of these objectives add it to the card ‘things we do that don’t fit in objectives’ to be discussed at the annual or monthly meetings.
How we set and run our monthly team meetings
At the end of each monthly team meeting we’ll decide when the next team meeting will be.
Ngapera (or Lillian, if Ngapera’s away) then sets up a new document in the “Team Meetings” folder on Google Drive, named with the date of that meeting.
We’ll try and have as many of these meetings in person as we can. If it’s an in-person meeting and you live in a different location, Ngapera will work with you to book your flights as soon as possible once the meeting date is set.
If you’d like to add anything to the agenda for that meeting, talk to Ngapera – she’ll then coordinate getting it included.
Before the meeting, it’s your responsibility to check the document so you’re:
- Aware of the agenda.
- Able to complete any actions assigned to you in the “Actions before meeting” section of the document.
Lillian facilitates the meetings, and someone else takes notes, including summarising actions from the meeting.