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Author:@aestranger

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Expanding your engagement metrics using TMRs

An AEX Design reframing of the OKR system

TMRs, yet another acronym in a sea of acronyms. Who can remember so many acronyms?

The reason of course is for written and sometimes spoken shorthand. We want to be more efficient, we want clear linear paths that we can follow to get the most out of any given thing.

Fortunately, this acronym will give that to you. TMR stands for Targets Milestones & Rewards. Now you might read this and think that that sounds very similar to something else. And you’d be right, it’s not too far off from John Doerr’s OKRs. In essence, it’s building upon the incredibly strong foundation of the OKR system. And I’ve written about the reframed concept of TMRs in other posts already, how to use them with EPICQ Goals and about altering the way we work.

I’d come across OKRs before and then I read John Doerr’s book Measure what matters and I realised that much of the work I do, with goal setting and creating milestones is, in essence, doing OKRs. But it needed something extra and the terminology needed some reframing. So I took the process, built on it, and reframed the terminology to reflect the business of audience engagement and gamification, and with that I also added rewards to it as well, to reflect that gamified conception.

Now I’ll go into more detail about what I mean by rewards later, but for now, know that it doesn’t just mean that you get rewarded for doing something. No, it’s more about what are the rewards for achieving certain outcomes.

And for those that haven’t come across OKRs yet, this acronym stands for Objectives and Key Results. A very potent tool to figure out and refine your goals/objectives and what you need to do to achieve them.

I won’t go into explaining how OKRs work, the book and the website already do a great job of that. Rather what I’d like to do is give you an outline of what the reframed version offers you. And this isn’t anything groundbreaking, it’s simply using different languages to get you to understand the concepts better so that you can have more effective and efficient goal-setting practices in your business and organisation.

Targets

Within the overall audience engagement and experience design process, TMRs are intended to be used in conjunction with the EPICQ goals concept. Your EPICQ goals are the big, broad epic goals that you want to achieve, the endgame as it were. TMRs help break these down into more manageable chunks. Just like the epic quests in games that have separate parts that you need to achieve before unlocking the final boss.

The Targets in TMRs then are the statements of these manageable chunks. Keep them simple when you’re coming up with them. They don’t need to be paragraphs long, just a few sentences that convert the EPICQ goal(s) into understandable and relatable targets/objectives. These simple statements will lay the foundations for the stepping stones to achieving the larger goal.

Imagine your EPICQ goals as long-term year-long or multi-year goals. Your targets are the short to maybe mid-term goals, the thing you’re aiming for in the next sprint, the next few weeks or the next month.

But keep your targets minimal. Try to only have 1 or 2 targets that relate to your main EPICQ goal(s), any more than that you’ll start to feel paralysed or overwhelmed, which goes against the idea of having an effective and efficient goal-setting method.

Once you’ve articulated your target(s), you will then start to figure out how you progress through them. What are the milestones you need to hit along that path to get what you want to achieve?

Milestones

Imagine the milestones like a roadmap or your quest map. It’s the journey that you are going to take to hit the targets you need to hit.

So, let’s take those targets and let’s start thinking about, and imagining, what steps you need to take that will give you the best chance of reaching them. And don’t worry about how many milestones you need to achieve a target. You can have one milestone or you can have several, you can break down the journey into as many milestones as you need to for you to feel comfortable about achieving your goals.

Be aware though, as with the targets, don’t create too many milestones to the point where you yet again fall into paralysis-through-analysis. Don’t go creating hundred of milestones, keep it to an amount that you can still have a quick overview of. And keep it to an amount where you’ll still be able to start and not procrastinate.

As a reference point, I would recommend that you try to have more than 2 milestones per target, but no more than 6 or 7 to start with.

Once you have your path laid out in front of you, you then need to start thinking about what the rewards and outcomes are for your targets when you achieve them.

Rewards

Now rewards are the additional reframing concept to this whole goal-setting process. Rewards in this case are twofold, on one hand, they are what the outcomes are of making it through the journey to your targets. So, what does achieving the targets look like, it’s an exercise in informed visualisation if you will. Is the reward an increase in products sold? Rewards in this case are the things that you would be able to measure.

And then, on the other hand, what is the actual reward for achieving the target, is it intrinsic or extrinsic?

Intrinsic in this case is whether achieving the desired target is enough of a reward. Is there a value in the outcome that increases or improves an aspect of your life or business?

Extrinsic is whether you have attached an external value to achieving the target. Such as if you hit your target weight that you’ve promised yourself a holiday. Or if you hit that sales target that the entire team gets taken out for dinner.

Let’s have a look at a fictional example of how TMRs could be used to do something.

TMR practical example

Imagine for a moment that you have a hobby, one where you make small stuffed animals, and plushies. You enjoy it and your friends and family have commented on it enough times that you’ve considered that maybe you’d like to turn this hobby into a small side-business. One that could augment your income a little. You don’t want to replace it, but if it could pay for a nice dinner or holiday every now and then, then that would be great.

That’s your EPICQ goal statement, you want a small side business that augments your income. We won’t go into breaking down that statement into each aspect of the EPICQ goal, you’re welcome to do that as part of the exercise. For now, we’ll stick with the same statement and break it down with the TMR process.

Target(s)

What are our targets? Well, we technically have two:

  • A small business that can pay for itself
  • Makes enough of a profit that augments (my) income

Milestones

What are the milestones that we need to hit to achieve these targets? Well, this is simply thinking about what realistic steps we need to take to get to the end goal. It’s an exercise in visualising the endpoint and then working backwards to your current start point.

  • Need at least X stuffed animals as a starting point for inventory
  • Setup an Etsy Store Account
  • Define the cost of materials used and time spent making (and selling)
  • Define the cost of each stuffed animal
  • Create social media account to market stuffed animals
  • Sell at least 80%+ of premade stock (while continuing hobby)
  • Sales must cover the cost of materials and time spent

In this case, we have 7 points on our journey, I feel like this is enough for now.

Rewards

What are the rewards for achieving these targets? Well, these need to reflect what you want out of your new business on a professional and personal level.

  • Business must net enough income that it covers the overhead costs and gives me a little profit
  • Social media marketing increases interest in stuffed animals leading to more sales
  • My life is not consumed with making stuffed animals and it remains a fun hobby

And there you have it, a very quick example of how TMRs could be used to create a small side-business. Hopefully, it gives you an idea of how to use the reframed concept in your goal-setting practices.

Using TMRs to improve audience engagement

The main aim of many of these tools is knowing whether they are effective. Is using a goal-setting tool like this effective in increasing your audience’s engagement with your product or service? Is implementing this tool going to allow me to achieve my goals and will the audience be able to achieve their goals? Will there be good goal alignment that we all come out of it with a net positive?

Well, the best way to consider this is again using the visualisation exercise of looking at your endpoint. If you are successful with implementing TMRs in your goal-setting process, would the outcome have a positive effect on you and your audience?

If I’m successful in creating a stuffed animal side business, I will have supplemented my income and I’ll have brought joy to a great many people. That sounds like a net positive, goal-aligned outcome to me.

With that endpoint visualisation, you should be able to at least answer in part some of the questions around effective audience engagement. Will what you are planning to do affect you? Will it positively affect your audience? Are you solving a pain point for them or creating a point of interest for them? Are your and their purpose points being achieved? And are you both leaving the experience with a net positive outcome by achieving the TMRs?

Final thoughts

A few final points around TMRs, make sure your Targets have value, in that what you are aiming for will make difference, to both you and your audience.

Ensure that your milestones are defined and have a deadline and that they are also realistic and are something that you can measure. You still need something quantifiable to make sure it worked.

And rewards should be meaningful to you, your organisation, your team and your audience. You don’t want to go through the whole exercise and have an anti-climax, as this will demotivate you from continuing or trying more things. And likely alienate your audience, which doesn’t benefit anyone then.

The aim of this reframing exercise is that the TMR method will aid you in thinking differently about your goals and support you in achieving your EPICQ goals. And that it helps you and your audience to be better than you were yesterday.

I hope that this piece has given you some food for thought and helped improve your own methods or at least offered a different viewpoint to consider.

Do check out the other posts on æStranger.com, and do leave a comment or contact us if you have some ideas of your own that you wish to discuss or if you would like to see other topics discussed.

Please do Share if you found it helpful and if you know of someone who would it find it helpful as well. 

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