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How the Heck do I Know I’ve Explained the Project Goal Clearly?

By: Brad

Hey Brad I’m the Team Leader for a new project and I’m trying to explain the goal of the project to the entire team but I’m not sure if all members of the team have interpreted the goal in the same way. How the heck do I figure out if I’ve explained the project goal clearly so that all members of the team share the same vision for the project?

As the Team Leader (or Scrum Master if your using Scrum) one of your responsibilities is to help the team define clear goals that the entire team understand and share. These goals include the overall goal for the project and what the deliverable are going to be, goals for the team to help them elevate to a higher level of performance, and goals for the sprint which gives the team something in the short term to accomplish so they remain motivated and on track (small victories to rally spirits). No matter which type of goal we’re talking about here its important that all members of the team (Pigs and Chickens) share the same understanding of what the goal is so that there are no surprises or unrealized expectations.

Its not uncommon for different people on a team to hear the same explanation and derive a different understanding of what was said. People are different with different experience/cultural backgrounds which results in them interpenetrating different events/actions/words in different ways; A statement which seems innocent or neutral to you may be interpenetrated negatively by someone else. Because of this when you explain a goal different members of the team may generate very different understanding of what the expectations are which results in misalignment, confusion, and ultimately an unrealized goal.

How do I know I’ve explained the goal clearly?

The Elevator Speech Test – Take each team member aside and ask “If you were traveling by elevator with the CEO and they asked what your team was working on what would you say?”


If their response matches the goal then you have explained it clearly enough. If all members of your team can answer the Elevator Speech Test in about the same way then you have successfully ensured that the entire team has a shared understanding of what the teams goals are for the project/sprint and what the expected deliverable are going to be.

Its a simple enough test and I personally think it works well either as an across the table interview style question or as a (my coaching style of choice by the way) at the water cooler hey I have a quick question for your if you don’t mind style question.

So that’s how the heck you can tell if you’ve explained the project goal clearly to all members of the team; use the Elevator Speech Test to probe each team member (Pigs and Chickens, doesn’t hurt to test the Product Owner in the same way too in order to make sure you’ve interpreted their goal for your team clearly) to make sure that the vision for the project/sprint is a common one shared by all members of the team.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below and I’ll respond when time permits.

Until next time think imaginatively and design creatively


My interest in computer programming started back in high school and Software Development has remained a hobby of mine ever since. I graduated as a Computer Engineering Technologist and have been working as a Software Developer for many years. I believe that software is crafted; understanding that how it is done is as important as getting it done. I enjoy the aesthetics in crafting elegant solutions to complex problems and revel in the knowledge that my code is maintainable and thus, will have longevity. I hold the designation Certified Technician (C.Tech.) with the Ontario Association of Computer Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT), have been certified as a Professional Scrum Master level 1 (PSM I) and as a Professional Scrum Developer level 1 (PSD I) by as well as designated as an Officially Certified Qt Developer by the Qt Company. For more on my story check out the about page here

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