Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
“Action expresses priorities.” -― Mahatma Gandhi “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” -― Stephen R. Covey “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” -― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Your priority list is not your To-Do list. It's not your backlog. (Although, you should prioritize your lists. But, how do you prioritize them? Hint – this is where your priorities list comes in.)
Your priorities list is your little list of what’s most important. It’s your little list of the most important things to achieve.
How important is your little priorities list? Let's put it in proper perspective. A lack of priorities, or the wrong priorities, are one of the leading causes of failure in management, leadership, and otherwise highly capable employees.
Time management tips #20 is priorities list. If you don't have one, make one now. What else could be more important than having a list of priorities list at your finger tips? (If you had your priorities list you would know the answer to that.)
When you have your little list of priorities, you can say "No" to things. When you have your little list of priorities, you can check with your manager, or team, or your customers, or your spouse -- are these really the priorities? Most importantly, you can check with yourself.
Have you identified the little list of the things that are most important to YOU? If you know you are working on the most important things, it's easier to focus. It's easier to give your best. It's easier to stop the distractions. It's easier to say, "No" to all the little things that tug at your attention, or compete for your time.
It's also where peace of mind comes from. It's instant. When you know you are working on the right things at the right time, you are on path.
Conflict of priorities is one of the leading causes of churn, procrastination, and every other productivity killer you can think of. The only thing worse is having nothing that's important. And you know what they say, if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.
Resolving conflicts in priorities has been known to part the clouds and make the sun shine brighter.
In general, you can think of your priorities as your "Why" or "What", while other lists tend to be the "How." That's a generalization since obviously things will bleed, but what's important is that you have a short, explicit list of your priorities. When they swirl around in your head they get distorted, so get them out in the open. When you are in the thick of things, be able to give them a glance, and know whether to about-face or march on.
As Scott Berkun says, "Priorities are the backbone of progress." It's true. After all, if you are making progress against anything else, does it matter?
Here is an example of a set of my priorities for a month:
Three Key Wins
We can ignore the details, and focus on the structure. I had three wins I identified with my manager for the month, and a list of seven outcomes that were top priority. Did I have a backlog a mile long, and a laundry list of hundreds (if not thousands) of things to do? Yes. Did I also have short lists of rated and ranked items for the month? Yes, that's the list above. Did I also have rated and ranked items for each week? You bet. And did I have short-lists of rated and ranked items each day? Absolutely.
While priorities aren't the silver bullet, they are your way to "push back." They are your "push" when you need it most. They also are your "pull", that you can ignore at your own peril. They are also your "peace of mind."
If you haven't prioritized your priority list, you're missing out.
For work-life balance skills , check out 30 Days of Getting Results, and for a work-life balance system check out Agile Results at Getting Results.com.
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This is a very simple frame I use to help people rate their jobs:
It’s nothing fancy. It’s just a quick way to get a good sense of job they’ve got. Here are three quick checks:
If I were to expand the set, I might include a Competencies check, and a Culture check. Most importantly, I would include a Values check. The best job you can have, is the one where you can find a way to spend more time in your values. Notice how I said “find a way” – it’s rare that your dream job falls into your lap … it’s more of an exercise of shaping and transformation, both of the job, and of yourself.
You need to take stock.
Stopping to smell the roses, includes reviewing your achievements. You can review your achievements very simply:
Simply write down a list of your achievements for the day. Write down your achievements for the week. Write down your achievements for the month. If they aren’t worth writing down, then they probably weren’t worth doing. If you are doing things that aren’t worth doing, that might be a problem – unless you have infinite time, and your boss or your customers reward you for doing things that don’t matter. Usually, the real problem is you did a bunch of valuable stuff, but you haven’t stepped back to identify it, label it, and put it down on paper in a useful way.
It’s a simple thing to do, but the key is to write them down, and say them out loud. Say them out loud? Yes. When you speak them, you learn to simplify them. When you simplify them, they start to stick. When they stick, now you are learning how to tell and sell your value both to you and others.
On paper, I might write the following:
Yuck. It’s descriptive, but it’s not sticky, and my manager won’t remember that, and I won’t remember that in the hall, if I wanted to give a quick summary of my impact.
Let’s try again, and let’s say it out loud:
It’s simpler. It’s easy to say. It’s sticky. It’s more benefit focused, than on the “how.” I’ve just given my manager an easy way to talk about the work without getting tongue-tied. I’ll drill into the details where he wants to, but now he has a mental “hook” and a label for the work, and can easily express it as a win. When you find a sticky way to say your achievement, write it down the simpler way. You can always elaborate, but don’t let elaboration get in the way of your short and sweet wins.
If you don’t review your achievements, then a few things happen:
Simply having your lists of your achievements and wins is good for you and good for others. It helps you tell and sell your work, and it helps others tell and sell your work.
Most importantly, having your simple list of achievements helps you acknowledge and appreciate your effort, and that’s your edge.
I've heard it before, but it's good to put down on paper.
The mission of Microsoft Enterprise Services:
“Our mission is to lead and serve our customers and partners as they realize their full potential through software and services.”
It sounds like servant leadership in action.
I found this blurb that describes Microsoft Enterprise Services:
“Microsoft Enterprise Services is the consulting, support and customer service arm of the world’s leading software company. Microsoft Services focus on top enterprise customers in each of the 82 countries where we operate. The organization includes 17.300 employees in Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) and Microsoft Premier Services (Premier).”
What's your company's mission?
Does it inspire you to give your best where you have your best to give?
Little things that get in our way, wear us down. By creating a few glide paths in our day, we can jumpstart and maintain our momentum. Daily momentum is a key ingredient to making things happen.
Time management tips #5 is -- reduce the friction in your day. Friction is the resistance we feel, when we go to do something. It might be extra steps in our process. It might be clutter that gets in our way. It might be the inconvenience of where we put things. All these little friction points add up.
The goal is to reduce the bottlenecks in your day, and give yourself a handful of friction-free experiences. For example, paths in your house should not be an obstacle course over laundry or toys. Your computer desktop should have fast access to your most common apps. You shouldn't have to do awkward moves whether it's reaching for shampoo, or getting a glass, or throwing out the garbage (and finding the garbage should not be a game of hide and go seek.)
Your key measure is how you feel, and whether you have to work too hard, to do something simple. The more you have to do something each day, the simpler you should make it.
Here are a few examples that have worked for me.
If you get creative, you can find a lot of ways to simplify your daily moves and experiences. Some of the main ideas are:
The mantra is … the more friction free you can be, the more momentum you can build. Don’t let things break your stride, and don’t let things slow you down.
In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the exercise and Reduce Friction and Create Glide-Paths for Your Day to get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis.
You can also find more time management tips in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and on Getting Results.com
Have you heard of the big rocks story? If not, the idea is that if you don't first make room for your big rocks, all the fillers of life will fill up your day for you.
Time management tips #6 is -- schedule the big rocks. If you don't have an appointment on your calendar for XYZ, it's not going to happen. If you don't have a recurring appointment called, "Write Your Book," it won't happen. If you don't have a recurring appointment called, "Workout," it won't happen.
Maybe you want to build an app to change the world. Do you have a recurring appointment on your calendar called, "Build an App to Change the World"? I know some people that do. And even if they don't change the world, they are making the time for it, and that's exactly the point.
You don't have time for this. You don't have time for that. You only have time for the things you make time for. Carve out time for what's important. Schedule it, and make it happen.
What are you making time for?
In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the time management exercises to Carve Out Time for What's Important and get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis. You can also find more time management tips in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and on Getting Results.com
How do you rehydrate, revitalize, or renew a brand?
I thought that a post on rebranding would help people get a new lease on life. I see people hold on to dead brands, launch fizzle brands, and kill brands by being all things to all people. I see this happen to individuals and their personal brand too.
I decided to ask the best in the business ... Al Ries. Aside from a best-selling author, Al is one of the best business consultants in the world on branding and positioning. After all, he's written THE book on "positioning."
Al wrote a fantastic guest post for me:
How To Rebrand a Brand
It's a masterpiece.
If you are looking at how to rehydrate your product or yourself, it's a MUST read.
What if you could improve your time management week over week? Well, you can. Imagine the pay off over time.
Time management tips #7 is Friday reflection. Friday reflection is a way to check what's going wrong, and carry forward what's going right.
To do Friday reflection, simply give yourself 10 or 20 minutes on Friday mornings to ask yourself two things:
The goal is to carry the good forward and build better habits.
Before you answer the questions above, really reflect on your week. Did you do what you set out to do? If not, did you trade up for the right things? Did you get randomized? Did you bite off more than you can chew?
See what starts to happen? You start to notice your own patterns. This awareness becomes your advantage, when you use it to change what's not working, and do more of what is working It's a way to improve your personal habits and streamline your results.
One of the most common patterns is to simply lose sight of what we set out to achieve for his week. That's why thinking of three wins for the week is so powerful. It gives us a target. We check ourselves during the week, and adjust our course, but Friday is where we really peer into our personal process improvement.
The key to exponential results is to work on the right things, at the right time, the right way, with the right energy. With Friday Reflection, the overall goal is to improve your little loop of results: identify the value, carve out things you can do, make the time for it, use your best energy to amplify it, and streamline your habits to support you.
Use your Friday as a way to invest in yourself.
In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the time management exercises to reflect on Fridays and get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis. You can also find more time management tips in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and on Getting Results.com
Nothing helps you stay the course, or pick up the pace, or deal with setbacks like purpose. One of the best ways to focus, get your groove on, and make things happen is the power of purpose.
Time management tips #8 is power up with purpose. Purpose is they "why" behind what you do. It gives you a meaningful mission to apply your strengths, experience, and talent. In the absence of purpose, you lose your drive. After all, it's hard to bring out your best when there's no motivating mission.
Purpose comes in all shapes and sizes. Some say, "Go big or go home." For many, that's a way to step up to the plate. A way to swing with all their might. A way to dream big dreams. Here's what this might look like:
- I’m the researcher who finds the truth. - I’m the developer who writes the code to change the world. - I’m the coach who helps make others great. - I’m the musician who makes people feel alive. - I’m the poet who makes people think.
Purpose doesn't have to be grandiose to be effective. For others, a simple meaningful purpose is all they need. Heres' what this might look like:
- I’m the technical specialist who helps customers succeed on the platform. - I’m the Program Manager who helps customers share cool experiences. - I’m the glue who connects the UI to the developers.
Roles and goals are a simple way to find purpose. Take your role, line it up with the goal, and make that your mission or your purpose. Here are some that I have used:
- I am the PM who shapes the cloud story for end-to-end engagements in the Enterprise. - I am the PM who shapes the Microsoft application story for customer success. - I am the Pm who shapes the security and performance story for LOB apps.
You can make the purpose for the day, the week, the month, the year, etc. You know you nailed it when it inspires you to action, and it helps you get out of bed in the morning.
Create a one-liner reminder of your purpose that you can use today, to make your mission more meaningful.
In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the time management exercises to find your purpose and get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis. You can also find more time management tips in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and on Getting Results.com
WHAM! ...POW! ...WONK! ... SLAM! ...
No, it's not Batman. Those are the sounds of a friendly neighborhood Microsoft foosball player ... "En Fuego."
"En Fuego" is the expression we would say at our humble foosball table, when somebody was "on fire." On fire is like when you are in your element and all of a sudden you are firing on all cylinders and playing at another level.
That is "En Fuego."
I remember the first time I was "En Fuego” on the foosball table. It was unreal. It was as if my shots were not done *by* me ... they were done *through* me. The ball sizzled. My wrists snapped at just the right time. The ball whizzed by the defense and slammed against the metal back ... TWHACK!
Ah, if you've never experienced "En Fuego" ... you haven't lived. Anyway, I think you get the idea of what it's like to "be on fire."
Now let's switch gears and talk about another scenario.
It's "Hair on fire."
That's not a good thing.
There are all sorts of expressions for this, some better than others, but the main idea is that somebody is running around, as if their hair is on fire. It's no better than running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
It has many causes. Some of the top ones include:
Maybe you know a certain someone? …
Anyway, there is a solution. It's "Peaceful Calm." Peaceful Calm is the term we used on our team, when we were relaxed, resourceful, and ready for anything. It’s like James Bond, poised for success. Anticipate more, get surprised less, be ready for anything.
Help a friend go from "hair on fire" to "En Fuego."
The first step is Peaceful Calm.
"What are your three wins for today?"
That's the one very simple test I ask myself and my team, on a daily basis. It instantly helps focus and prioritize our massive backlog, our incoming requests, and competing demands. It's how to cut "Crazy Busy" down to size with one simple question ...
“What are your three wins for today?”
It’s a way to carve out and shine the spot light on the value we will create today. It sets a target to aim for. It flips the haystack. Instead of finding the needles of value lost among the hay stack of stuff, we start with the needles. Clarity of value, trims the To-Do tree down to size.
After all, no matter what's coming your way, and what's on your plate, you can only do so much. The trick is to figure out what's the next best thing to spend your time and energy on. When you answer that question, you give yourself peace of mind, knowing that you are working on the smarter things you can for the day. You also give yourself creative freedom to achieve your goals, rather than get stuck in “the how trap.” (To-Do lists have a nasty habit of making you slaves to administration and getting stuck in tasks instead of focused on goals and value.)
Just by identifying your three wins for the day, you give yourself a way to succeed. You've just identified your personal tests for success. At the end of the day, it's easy to check your progress against your goals. It's also easy to use your wins throughout the day, as a way to stay focused or to re-prioritize.
My three wins for today are:
I keep the wins, simple and punchy. The key is saying them out loud. Actually verbalize your wins. This simplifies them. Then write them down. Say them out loud first, as if saying your wins for the day to your manager, and then write them down. The simpler you can say your wins, the easier they are to remember. The simpler you can say your wins, the easier it is for your manager to follow, and to actually appreciate your contribution. The simpler you can say your wins, the easier it is for other people to follow or help you achieve your goals. The simpler you can say your win, the easier it is to get others on the same page, whether that's your team, your allies, or winning over the forces of evil, by setting a shared goal.
This is an extremely key habit for unstoppable you. Whether you want a better review, or to be a better leader, or to simply be more effective at time management, focus, and setting priorities ... this is a daily habit for success.
In Time Management Tips #3 -- Three Wins for the Week, I shared how you can use your three wins to shape your focus and priorities for the week, as well as give yourself a way to acknowledge your impact. Otherwise, it's easy to have another week fly by, do a bunch of stuff, and yet not even be able to articulate the value you delivered or the way you change your world. even in some small way. The wins accentuate the positive, focus on what counts, and rise above the noise.
By using Three Wins for the Day and Three Wins for the Week, you have a way to zoom in on your day, or zoom out to the week, so you can see the forest for the trees, and take the balcony view. It also gives you an easy way to readjust your priorities if the focus is off. This two-pronged approach also helps you connect your daily work toward weekly impact. It also helps you see what's right in front of you, and lean in, knowing that you are spending the right time, on the right things, with the right energy.
Say your three wins for today and write them down, and see if you can nail them.
In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the exercise and three stories to drive your day to get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis.
Personal growth is one of the best ways to get more from life. How do you achieve personal growth? Well, one way is to take on big, hairy challenges. Personal growth is what happens to you in the process of testing your skills and experience against the real world.
I like to think of personal growth as expanding your capabilities.
You can grow deeper in a particular domain, or you can grow your cross-cutting abilities. Sometimes, the best way to grow deeper in a domain, is to focus on cross-cutting concerns like focus, setting goals, motivation, productivity, time management, etc. For example, when I was working in security, I had to do a lot of stakeholder management across teams. It required a great deal of influence without authority. I had to deal with extreme conflict, and negotiate for win-wins in a number of highly-competitive scenarios. I had to practice emotional intelligence under high-stress scenarios. I had to stay focused, and use goals to help drive the team forward. I had to achieve our security goals, while making sure the team was highly productive. I had to improve my own personal productivity. All of these skills, helped me learn about security in a much broader way, from a much wider set of people, and in a way that was much more profound that if I simply focused on the principles, patterns, and practices of security. It was through personal growth, that I expanded my abilities to be effective at driving security changes in a much wider range of scenarios and situations.
Personal growth is powerful. It’s the backbone of personal empowerment. For example, sometimes when you wonder what’s holding you back … it’s you. Whether it’s limiting beliefs, or having a limited toolset, or simply having a limited perspective or experience. The key is to expand your capabilities, along the journey of work and life.
My 30 Days of Free Training for Getting Results, is a collection of self-paced modules to help you achieve personal growth. When I originally ran the self-paced training, I did it as a daily release for 30 days. It was highly effective for many people because they liked the little daily actions, and the focus for the month. Since that original series, I’ve made the 30 Days of Free Training for Getting Results available here:
It’s a highly-focused set of personal growth exercises at your finger tips. It’s also a very simple system for time management. I’ve tried to keep the layout as simple and as clean as possible. If you’ve seen the earlier version, then this should be a marked improvement. I put each day on the sidebar, so that you can easily hop around. For convenience, I’ve listed the days below, and provided a link to each lesson. This way you can get the bird’s-eye view and quickly explore any lessons that might interest you. (Personally, if this is your first time, I would check out Day #27 – Do Something Great.)
30 Days of Getting Results
Note that just because it says 30 days, that doesn’t mean you can’t flip through at your own pace. Find what works for you. Explore the ideas that you find the most interesting.
If you experience a breakthrough, be sure to share it with others. Even though this is free, it’s pretty intense. Folks have told me about their amazing breakthroughs … somehow dots have connected, and they’ve gotten over hurdles they’ve faced for years.
BTW – If you do start with Day 27 and decide to do something great, I’d love to hear about what it is.
What if you could do 40 hours of work, in just 4 hours? It sounds crazy, but it's very possible.
Time management tips # 1 is -- Add power hours to your week. Adding power hours to your week enables you to use your best energy to produce exponential results. A "power hour" is simply where you are in the zone and you got your groove on. Of all the time management tips I’ve learned, this little time management tip could be one of your biggest breakthroughs.
Here's what makes it possible to produce 40 hours of work in only 4 hours:
Let's focus on point #3: use your best energy. Simply by shifting the mix, you can do way more, in way less time. By identifying your power hours throughout the week, you can then use them for your greatest work.
Have you ever been on a roll? Have you ever felt unstoppable? Have you ever felt on top of the world, or on top of your game? When you are in this mode, you find it easy to solve problems, take on big challenges, and crank through your work pile. That's you in your power hours.
A quick story … Several years ago, I was frustrated that the bulk of my week felt like unproductive chaos. While I was producing strong results, it felt like only a handful of hours were effective. Out of 40 hours, it felt like only about 4 really mattered. I checked with my peers, only to find that they felt that only a few hours each week were really productive.
I started to pay attention to my hours each day, and I found that I was really productive at 8:00 AM, 10:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 4:00PM. But, forget about 3:00 PM ... it was like siesta time. (In fact, the book Brain Rules talks about this phenomenon.) Armed with this insight, I then started to push the bulk of my most important work into these hours. I shoved my lesser work to the surrounding hours. I also pushed any meetings I could to the surrounding hours.
Now, instead of having 4 power hours per week, I was having 4 power hours per day.
When I wasn't aware of my power hours, I was letting other people step all over them, and I was wasting them on things like administration, or things I could do with my eyes closed. Worse, I was trying to do my heavy lifting during non-power hours, and it was like pushing rocks uphill.
By shifting my schedule to make my power hours a first-class citizen, I took my productivity to new levels that made my manager’s head spin. (In a good way, not exorcist style).
In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the exercise and time management tips for Power Hours to get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis.
Are you a night owl or an early bird? When are you at your creative best?
For me, I found that I tend to be my most productive in the mornings, but most creative at night. I also found that some of my best ideas happen in the space of early Saturday or Sunday mornings.
Time Management Tips #2 is -- Find your creative hours. If you know when you are at your creative best, then you can shape your schedule around that to support your most creative times.
I've found that structuring my time is my single best way to get exponential results in less time. Originally, I structured my time to focus on productivity. What I was missing was the think time, and the creative time ... the space for creative inspiration. In the world of knowledge work, you can't "be what's next" if you don't make space to figure it out, and if you don't make space to think up, experiment, and play at your ideas.
It's really an awareness thing, but if you start to pay attention to the state you're in during the week, you'll start to notice patterns. Maybe you feel inspired and smarter in the morning. Maybe you ease into it throughout the day.
There is a big difference between grinding through work to be done, and stepping back, taking a breath, and using your creative abilities. If you feel you never get a chance to take your creative breath, then bake it into your schedule, and carve out the breathing room.
In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the exercise and time management tips for Creative Hours to get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis.
One of the simplest ways to get your groove back on, is to do things differently.
"Do the opposite" is a great strategy.
For example, if you've been staying up late, try getting up early. (Getting up early can help you go to bed earlier. And the secret of waking up earlier, is to go to bed earlier. See the loop?) Getting up earlier changes your world ... the traffic you see or don't, the people you pass or don't, the quiet times, the busy times, your state of mind. It all changes because you changed your structure.
And all you had to do was change your “When”.
You can apply "Do the opposite" to many things. It's a great way to cut the baggage. For example, if you normally write long and lengthy posts, try some short ones. Set a simple limit, like, “the post must not scroll.” You might find that you suddenly drop a burden from your back, and now you are light and ready for anything.
Another way to do the opposite is if you always decide that something must be done later, try doing it now. If you always do things slow, try doing things fast. If you always try to be right, try being interesting, useful, or insightful. Shake it up.
Rattle your own cage.
When we shake our cage, we wake up our possibilities. We surprise ourselves.
Getting Results the Agile Way, is “The Book that Changes Lives.”
You can also think of it as “Agile for Life.”
It’s the book that changes lives because people have used it to build high-performing teams, transform their business, and best of all … transform themselves and unleash what they are capable of. My Mom even uses it for projects on the house.
It’s also the playbook I wish Microsoft gave me when I started, but it’s also a playbook for life … in terms of how to make the most of what you got.
It’s a simple system for meaningful results … and integrates the life-long lessons I’ve learned from folks like Ward Cunningham and others.
The stories I get from people and how they’ve used it to find the fire inside, or to start a business, or to get back on track, or to build a high-performing team, or how to get a great review, or to get back on their feet, etc. have been amazing.
I’ve used Getting Results the Agile Way to build high-performing teams wherever I go, but lately, I’ve been giving more talks to other teams. I’ve been giving talks to teams over the years, but now there seems to be a growing interest in how to build high-performing teams and high-performance individuals.
I’ll find a way to share the talk in the future. I have done variations of it for some companies outside of Microsoft. Consulting companies especially care because it’s a way to amplify the productivity of individuals, teams, and leaders. After all, who doesn’t want exponential results?
Until I create the video, your best bet is to read the kindle version of Getting Results the Agile Way, and explore the Getting Results Knowledge Base, which includes checklists, guidelines, and how tos for topics like focus, goals, motivation, prioritization, and time management.
The beauty of adopting Agile Results, is not only will it help you be YOUR best at work, but it’s focused on meaningful results, so you will automatically start to live the three paths of happiness: The Pleasant Life, The Good Life, and the Meaningful Life.
Live your extraordinary life … with skill.
Agile Results is a simple system for time management. Agile Results is fully explained in the action guide, Getting Results the Agile Way.
Getting started with Agile Results is easy. Here's how:
Say your answers out loud first, and then write them down. Writing your answers down helps them stick. Saying your answers out loud helps simplify your answers. If you get tongue tied or elaborate or lost when you say your answers, then find another way to say them until they are simple, clear, and concise.
Clarity is the key to driving results.
If you do nothing else, but want to get started right here, right now – then simply grab a piece of paper and write down three wins that you want for today. Congratulations – you’re doing Agile Results.
One way to remember the heart of Agile Results is to simply remind yourself of the following mantras:
It's simple, but highly effective. If you get in the habit of nailing your three wins, you will spin circles around others that don't. You will also build an important muscle when it comes to articulating your wins. You will suddenly be perceived as somebody who demonstrates clarity in purpose and results. You gain trust as a productive member of the team.
Most importantly, you build your belief in you as somebody who can make things happen. This little momentum goes a long way and will help you rise above the crowd and stand out in terms of execution excellence.
Agile Results works. It works because it does the following:
I could say more. But I'd rather you just test the system for yourself. If you don't already have the book, check it out online at http://GettingResults.com , or buy the Kindle version on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Results-Agile-Way-ebook/dp/B005X0MFD2
If you want to absolutely change your game and drive your results to the best in your life, then take the Agile Results 30 Day Challenge.
In a world of ever-increasing competition, you have to get every advantage on your side. Use Agile Results to get the system on your side and to help you flourish like you've never flourished before.
What do you get when you combine the power of project management with proven practices for productivity and leadership?
You get an extremely productive leadership … the kind that takes your execution capability to new heights and makes your competition jealous (or at least take notice.)
I’ve put together a set of 10 Proven Practices for More Productive Leadership in a guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog. It’s my take on how skills from project management, combine with productivity and leadership to create a deep ability to make things happen. Project management skills are a force multiplier because they teach you to really understand the work, really understand the risks associated with performing the work, really understand the constraints and impacts of budget, resources, and time, really understand how to manage multiple stakeholders and competing concerns, really understand what progress truly looks like, and really understand how to get the right people working on the right things to drive change and flow value.
These are some of the hallmarks that underpin execution excellence and set the stage for high-performing teams.
Productive leadership is more than just making things happen. It’s creating compelling vision with clarity and conviction that inspire everyone around you to bring out their best. It taps your talent in a way that amplifies and produces exponential results. It provides meaning and motivation for everyone involved to give their best where they have their best to give.
When you think of productive leaders, who makes your soul sing or makes the blood rush through your veins, excited by their visionary capabilities and their ability to mobilize the team to fire on all cylinders? Who inspires you to believe that you can and will change the world in meaningful ways? Who do you look up to, when the chips are down, so you can fight the good fight and keep on keeping on?
Hopefully, you have several of these productive leaders right around you. If not, why not step up to the plate and set the example? People all around you are always looking to be inspired and leadership is a game where everyone can play, and everyone wins. The price of admission is courage, conviction, and compassion. If you have those, that’s a great start. But there’s a little more …
The boldest, the brightest, and the best leaders have several patterns in common and success leaves clues. The most productive leaders share a set of practices that sets them apart from every Joe. Productive leaders have a set of proven practices that gives them the edge to make things happen in any scenario.
… But what are these proven practices for productive leadership?
You can find out what these proven practices for productive leadership are in my guest post for Michael Hyatt:
For those of you on high performing teams, you’ll nod your head in acknowledgement and the practices will resonate with you loud and clear. For others, you may have to break past some of your mental models and paradigms, and explore the ideas with a curious mind.
I want everyone to get the edge and to use these practices to build more high-performing teams that flourish. I believe that everybody deserves a chance to work in an arena that allows them to bring out their best, and give their best where they have their best to give. Work can be your ultimate form of self-expression and your ultimate dojo for personal growth.
Enjoy and be sure to stop by and say “Hi” at 10 Proven Practices for More Productive Leadership. Also, be sure to share your insights and actions that you’ve learned about productive leadership.
I’ll be following closely and I’ll be looking forward to learning any new patterns and practices for productive leadership that you share.
If you like quotes, I have an extensive quotes collection at Great Quotes. I continuously expand this collection. Each page of quotes is a labor of love. I take time and care to organize each page of quotes into a simple structure that makes it easy to browse many quotes at a glance.
Here are ten examples of pages of quotes from the Great Quotes collection that you can use for work and life:
If you only have time to explore one of the quotes collections, then explore the Life Quotes. They are powerful quotes that can help you see life in a new way, or remind you of what’s important in work and life.
As a preview, here are the top 10 life quotes from that page:
As one of my friends puts it, “life’s better with the right words,” and I think quotes help us make that come true.
P.S. – If there is a particular quote collection that you would like me to add, be sure to let me know. So far, I am working on a “Mental Toughness” quotes collection that a few colleagues have asked me for.
Stephen Covey has past away, but his legend lives on:
Covey will be missed, but not forgotten. I see him all around me every day in the halls of Microsoft …
Many of my mentors, mentees, and colleagues are avid Stephen Covey fans. I know a lot of Softies around Microsoft that echo the patterns and practices of Stephen Covey’s work. One of my early managers, was a raving fan of Stephen Covey and he made it real. He absolutely practiced what he preached and he was one of the most inspiring managers that I ever worked for.
One of the most important lessons I learned from that same manager was that I had to be OK with failure. I had to risk enough to be able to fail. I had to be open to the idea that I couldn’t make everything succeed all of the time. He said it was this vulnerability that would become my strength. He also said that if I could embrace the idea of letting others fail and learn from their mistakes that it would be more empowering in the long run. People flourish when we give them the room.
He also taught me that you get more power, the more you give away. When you trust people, and they know you have their back, they reciprocate. The trust grows in two ways. People go out on a limb, because they know it’s OK to be vulnerable. People tell you stuff that they would only tell you when there is trust. This creates a powerful loop of learning and growth.
Anyway, I think Stephen Covey’s impact was powerful and pervasive. He is with us everywhere. The next time you hear somebody say, “Let’s start with the end in mind,” or “Are we focusing on what’s important, or just reacting to what’s urgent?”, smile and nod in acknowledgement that Covey has forever shaped how we lead ourselves and others.
Please enjoy Stephen Covey Leaves a Legacy.
“Speak when you are angry - and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret.” -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter
A crucial conversation is any conversation where the stakes are high, emotions run strong and opinions vary. If you can master crucial conversations, you can kick-start your career, strengthen your relationships, and improve your health. In the game of life, skill is often a better hand to play, than fear or luck. Don’t fear crucial conversations. Master them.
One of the best books on the topic, is Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.
Here's the process in a nutshell ...
The beauty of the approach is that the patterns are sticky. If you can remember things like "Master My Stories" or "Make it Safe,", then you can easily break out of limiting patterns. The patterns are cleverly named, and once you read the book, they make perfect sense in terms of how you use them to shape or reshape conversations. They break limiting patterns, and enable empowering ones.
Early on, we adopted and practiced these skills on the Microsoft patterns & practices team. It was extremely helpful for bringing issues to the table, creating an open and respectful environment, and ultimately trust. Not to mention, when you can talk about the tough stuff at work, it makes work life better.
I mentor a lot of people inside and outside of Microsoft. This is one of the tools I highly recommend everybody adds to their toolbox. Even if you are already good at crucial conversations, this helps you be succseeful by design rather than luck or stumble into success.
It's one thing to hear about a technique. It's another to hear the story. If you want to read the story of how one Softie, changed their life through crucial conversations, check out Lessons Learned from Crucial Conversations, by Eric Brun.
I’ve updated my top blogs lists. They are roundups of top blogs that I find to be useful. I organize the lists by category to make it easy to dive in by topic. I have the following lists so far:
For each list, I included the Top Ten Blogs, and then a longer list, organized A-Z. This makes it easy for me to keep a short-list, and a more complete list for that particular domain.
I will continue to expand the list of top blogs to add other domains, such as top emotional intelligence blogs, top management blogs, etc. The common theme across everything will be insight and action with a focus on proven practices for personal effectiveness.
This is a serious roundup of top blogs for insight and action:
Colleagues asked me where do I go to find the best of the Web for insight and action. This is that list. It’s a list of the top blogs and sites that I find really go the extra mile. It’s a mash up of top blogs on the following areas of focus: business skills, continuous learning, entrepreneurism, fun, leadership, personal development, productivity, strategy, technology, thinking skills, and trends.
Here is a sampling of top blogs from the list:
It’s a living list of top blogs. I’ll periodically update it.
Enjoy and explore the top blogs for insight and action.
The single most important thing I do at the start of each week is create my list of "Weekly Outcomes." It's my approach for a simple weekly planner. It helps me focus on the most important outcomes, and take the balcony view for my week. It works through thick and thin. It's a practice I've used for years, leading distributed teams around the world.
To use it, it’s simple. Just follow three rules:
It’s a simple format. That’s why it works. In the worst case scenario, I’ve taken at least five minutes to map out the wins for the upcoming week. This helps me set a target for success. Writing it down is important. This frees my mind to focus on where my attention is needed most. Whenever I need a fast reminder of what my week is about, I can look back to my list.
It’s a great leadership tool as well, especially if you have a distributed team. It’s easy to send out the email that maps out what a great week looks like. In the thick of things, it might take me 15 minutes to do the exercise, but those 15 minutes can save me 15 hours of wasted work or off path. It helps create clarity and common goals across the team. It also gives the team a chance to plug in things that are on the radar so everybody gets a good look at what’s on our plates.
You can do it on a whiteboard, or on a piece of paper, or in any tool of your choice. I prefer anything that I can type in that lets me very quickly move things around and adjust the list without worrying about formatting. To split up the list, I simply use whitespace. I like whitespace and breathing room, especially when my lists are outrageous.
The key, as always, is to focus on outcomes, not tasks. By having a list of your outcomes, you make it easier to drive results versus getting lost in the weeds. It really is a simple weekly planner.
You can find more time management tips at http://GettingResults.com
I’ve revamped my personal development How Tos page. How Tos are simply step-by-step recipes for results. They are powerful because they help you build a skill or learn a technique in a rapid way. Rather than a lot of conceptual information, they are focused on action steps. The beauty is they turn insight into action. Rather than learn about personal development, you can “do” personal development.”
To get a test, here are a few examples to take for a test drive:
Here is the current catalog of personal development How Tos:
Popular How Tos
Change, Influence, and Negotiation
Emotional Intelligence and Feeling Good
Time Management and Productivity