J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Scale Things Down so You Actually Do Them

Scale Things Down so You Actually Do Them

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If you find there are things you really need to do, but don’t do, then scale them down, so that you do.  Make taking action so easy that there’s no excuse not to do it.  Or make it small enough that you can take action within the small windows you have.   This means shaving things down to the bare essentials.

When something is good to do, it’s easy to make it bigger than it needs to be.  It’s easy to tack on more things.   It’s very easy to make things grow so big, that you no longer do them.  It’s the little friction that adds up over time.

A perfect example is planning.  Whether it’s planning your day, or planning your week, or planning a month.  It’s very easy to make it big.  It’s very easy to make it so big that eventually you don’t do it.  Or it’s easy to make it so big that there’s no time to actually do your plan.   The trick is to do “just enough” planning, that you can execute it and actually implement your plans.

This is a very big reason why Agile Results is lean.   I had to keep it so lean that I could use it in any scenario, and get results fast.  I have way too much going on to skip planning.  I have to make sure I’m working on the right things, at the right time, the right way, with the right energy.   Because I lead project teams, planning is even more important.  Keeping it light weight makes sure that I can always do it.

Here’s how I use Agile Results in the lightest way for maximum results:

  • On Mondays, I identify three wins I want for the week.
  • Each day, I identify three wins I want for the day.
  • On Fridays, I identify three things going well, and three things to improve.

This pattern for weekly results creates a “learning loop” of continuous improvement.  More importantly, it helps me rise above the noise by focusing on outcomes, not activities.   Because I have clarity in the outcome, I can shave off everything that is non-essential.

It’s this light-weight approach to planning that helps me take more action on the right things.  It’s this light-weight approach that helps me adapt for any situation.   It’s this same light-weight approach that helps me scale across a team very quickly to make sure that, as a team, we are all working on the right things, at the right time, the right way, with the right energy.

I’ve never had a day where it was a good idea to throw my time and energy all day at something without first asking myself, “What are three outcomes I want for today?”  It’s the difference between lucking into success, or succeeding by design.

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