Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
I wasn't sure who should write the foreword for my latest book, Getting Results the Agile Way. A few people had suggested Oprah Winfrey and Tony Robbins because it's all about getting results, firing on all cylinders, and living your best life. Since it's focused on meaningful results over just productivity, I thought maybe Guy Kawasaki or Seth Godin might be appropriate.
Luckily, one of my mentees knocked some sense in to me. She said I should have one of my most significant mentors at Microsoft write my foreword. She said it would be authentic and more meaningful since it's directly connected to the story behind the book. Beautiful point and I think she was right. In fact, I knew she was right as soon as she said it.
Mike Kropp has been an influential mentor for me over several of my years at Microsoft. Here is his foreword:
One thing is certain—change happens. It happens in your job and in your personal life. One of my favorite quotes on change and the importance of managing it effectively is from John F. Kennedy:
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
As is the law of nature, our ability to adapt to change determines our success. To that end, we seek out the tools and practices that will bring about that success. When it comes to books, there are a wide variety of books that describe the next new “approach” or “method,” promising to improve efficiency and effectiveness if we just follow their prescription for success. Most of these models usually fall short because they fail to factor in the “ability to adapt” as a primary premise.
Agile Results has “adaptability” baked into the entire framework so you’ll be able to factor in and manage changes when they happen instead of them managing you. One of the things I like most about Agile Results is it has simple tools and techniques to help you break a problem down, determine the key outcomes, and think through what’s most important to get done daily, weekly, and monthly—all without losing sight of the end game or your long term objectives. Having these great tools and practices that really work will help you to embrace change.
Although written for a wider audience, those of us in software development will find some of the concepts in Agile Results familiar. With agile software development techniques, there are several core premises that we follow to get more meaningful, impactful results. When we recognize we aren’t getting the right result, we adapt and change our documented plan that is no longer working for us. If it has become out of date, we don’t necessarily throw everything out, but we evaluate our standing plan. We focus on making sure we are always developing the next most important features by working with our key stakeholders and customers—having direct interactions with them instead of just following a process. These Agile practices have become mainstream in the software development arena because they really help you get better results and have a greater impact.
At Microsoft we measure impact, not activities or effort. It’s critical that you constantly zero in on what’s most important, stay connected with your customers, and drive hard to deliver them value and exceed their expectations. This is easy to say but much harder to put into practice. I was in an executive review where my boss at the time was describing all the actions the team had taken to drive for better results; a very senior Microsoft Executive replied:
“Don’t confuse Brownian Motion with having an impact!”
Bottom line is it’s all about the impact—not the activities. This is precisely where Agile Results can help.
I’ve seen J.D. Meier time and time again use the core principles outlined in Agile Results to deliver outstanding value which has had a positive impact for our customers and partners across the world. In the past, he has shared Agile Results with anyone who has asked. Now, he shares it with the rest of you. May you enjoy the rewards of bringing value, making an impact, and getting results!
Sincerely, Michael Kropp General Manager Solutions Engineering
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I spent the week between my former day job & onboarding at Microsoft reading Peter Drucker's classic "The Effective Executive". I learned for the first time the difference between activities & goals. This is one of my favorite quotes:
"Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things."
"Doing the right things" is a concept fundamental to success & sounds self-evident, yet is easier said than done. So what about implementation? How does one manifest effectiveness?
The answer is the prescriptive guidance--the patterns & practices--found in J.D.'s Getting Results the Agile Way. It provides a glide path for learning to do the right things & establishing a self-correcting, self-reinforcing rhythm of results with built-in mechanisms for incorporating feedback from yourself & others.
Getting Results is not a fancy-schmancy program that lacks sustainability. Instead, Getting Results is an elegant system that anyone can begin adopting within minutes. That's how I started. The impact on my ability to get things done--the right things--has been profound.