Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
I’m honored to have a guest post by Guy Kawasaki on Top Ten Reasons to Self-Publish. Self-publishing is hot. It’s a great path, especially if you can use writing as a way to share and scale what you know.
That said, there is a lot to know when it comes to the business of books, and that’s what Guy’s latest book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, is all about.
One of the big surprises I found in terms of self-publishing is that I made more in a month, than I made in a year, once I shipped the Kindle version. I knew there would be a difference, but I didn’t really anticipate just how big that difference would be.
The other thing I learned is that there is a big difference in what you can achieve if you look at self-publishing in terms of a longer-term play. The best advice I got from a friend was to think of it more like a slow burn, than a fast flame. This helped me experiment more and play around with everything from different covers, to different taglines, to different formats, etc. As a result, it’s been a best-seller in Time Management on Amazon for many months, which is an extremely competitive niche.
But I digress. Check out Guy Kawasaki’s guest post for me on Top Ten Reasons to Self-Publish. Who knows, it might just be your future career, or play a big role as we shift to a digital economy of information products and insight.
Have you ever felt like a phony? Like, if “they” found you out, they’d realize that you aren’t as awesome as they thought you were?
“Impostor syndrome” is a common issue.
Impostor syndrome is where you can’t internalize your success, and no amount of external validation or evidence helps convince you otherwise. So you work harder and harder to prove your success, but yet you still don’t quite measure up.
I’ve mentored a lot of people, and found that a lot of highly successful people actually have impostor syndrome, for one reason or another. For some, it’s because they feel they are in the fake stage of “fake it until you make it.” For others, it’s because their success doesn’t match their mental model of how it’s supposed to happen. For example, success came too quickly, or they feel they got a “lucky break.” For others, they don’t feel they match what a successful person is supposed to look like, or they don’t have the credentials they think they are supposed to have, or the specific experience they are supposed to have went under their belt.
So, it’s success on the outside, but no success on the inside.
And that leads to all sorts of issues, whether it’s a lack of confidence, or self-sabotage, or working harder and harder to validate their external success.
Luckily, there are proven practices for dealing with impostor syndrome.
I have the privilege of a guest post by Joyce Roche, author of The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success:
7 Ways to Conquer Impostor Syndrome – Lessons from Successful Business Leaders
It’s a simple set of coping strategies you can use to defeat impostor syndrome and find more fulfillment.
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The Book that Changes Lives
A few years back, I put together a roundup of 25 holiday classic movies to help people find their holiday spirit:
What 25 Holiday Classics Teach Us About Life and Fun
The post was pretty broken in terms of formatting, but the content is evergreen, so I took the time to revamp it. It should be 1000 times better now (at least.)
If you’re a movie buff, you'll recognize a lot of the classics, like The Lemon Drop Kid, or The Bishop’s Wife, or White Christmas.
I can never find anybody who has actually seen Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, though it’s still one of my favorite versions.
And when it comes to Claymation, my favorite is still Rudolph. I can never forget the scene where Yukon Cornelius says, “Look at what he can do!”, and the Bumble (the Abominable Snowman) puts the star on the top of the tree, without a ladder.
And whenever I see a sad looking little tree, I can’t help but wonder if adding a bunch of lights would magically transform it into a big, magnificent, and full tree, Charlie Brown style.
Transformation isn’t magic though.
It’s a lot of work. A lot of smart work.
As you get ready for this coming year, I hope that the key lessons you learned, and the key insights from this past year serve you well.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s how investing in the right capabilities pays off time and time again.
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.
I have a new cover for my book, Getting Results the Agile Way. Getting Results the Agile Way introduces Agile Results, a simple system for meaningful results.
The purpose of the book is to share the best insights and actions for mastering productivity, time management, motivation, and work-life balance. In fact, I’ve been doing several talks around Microsoft on work-life balance, and helping teams improve their results.
It’s the best way I can give the edge to my Microsoft tribe, as well as share the principles, patterns, and practices for getting results with the rest of the world.
The new cover better reflects the values of Agile Results: Adventure, Balance, Congruence, Continuous learning, Empowerment, Focus, Flexibility, Fulfillment, Growth, Passion, Simplicity, and Sustainability. Specifically, the cover reflects simplicity, focus, continuous learning, and flexibility. Hopefully, the simplicity is obvious. The new cover is pretty bare-bones. It’s clean, while, minimal, and features a symbol. In this case, the symbol is a variation of an Enso. Intuitively, it simply implies a loop. But if you happen to know the Enso, it’s also a symbol of enlightenment. The beauty of a symbol is you can make it be what you want it to be to be meaningful for you (for me, it’s continuous learning and growth.)
Getting Results the Agile Way is serious stuff. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, Moms, restaurant owners, consultants, developers, project managers, team leaders, and more have been using the approach to do more with less, flow more value, and find work-life balance, while improving their thoughts, feelings, and actions to make the most of what they’ve got.
The system scales down to the one-man band (after all, it is a “personal” results system for work and life), and it scales up to teams. It’s the same approach I’ve used to lead distributed teams around the world for more than ten years.
Here is the back of the book which gives a quick overview of the system:
The new cover will likely be available this October, so if you are a fan of the current blue cover, scoop it up now, while it lasts (maybe it will be a collector’s item some day.)
If you find you can't keep up with the world around you, then break things down. Breaking things down is the key to finishing faster.
Breaking things down is also the key to agility.
One of the toughest project management lessons I had to learn was breaking things down into more modular chunks. When I took on a project, my goal was to make big things happen and change the world.
After all, go big or go home, right?
The problem is you run out of time, or you run out of budget. You even run out of oomph. So the worst way to make things happen is to have a bunch of hopes, plans, dreams, and things, sitting in a backlog because they're too big to ship in the time that you've got.
Which brings us to the other key to agility ... ship things on a shorter schedule.
This re-trains your brain to chunk things down, flow value, chop dependencies down to size, learn, and, move on.
Best of all, if you miss the train, you catch the next train.
One town that all roads seem to lead to, is that … brand is the ultimate differentiator.
It’s a reflection of the perception of perceived value, the emotional benefits, the intangibles and the culture and the values that the brand stands for. In fact, a good way to test your brand is to figure out the three to five attributes that it represents.
Brand is a powerful thing because it’s a position in the mind. For some categories, especially on the Web, sometimes you only need one brand at the top, and the rest don’t matter. That’s why sometimes the only way to play, is to divide the niche, or expand to a new category.
As an individual, your brand can serve you in many ways at your company, from opening doors to creating glide paths … especially, when your reputation proceeds you in a good way.
The trick as an individual is, how do you fit in, while finding ways to stand out and sharing your unique value?
The press release for Getting Results the Agile Way is now live at Time Management Tips and Time Management Strategies for Achievers. I think the message hits a sweet spot – it’s a time management system for achievers. (One interesting tidbit along those lines is that Getting Results the Agile Way was #2 on the Amazon best sellers list in Germany for “time management”.)
Here are the opening paragraphs:
Some say, “Time is all we have.” To master time is to master life. The secret of time management is to have a trusted system and a collection of time management tips and time management strategies to draw from.
Getting Results the Agile Way, by J.D. Meier, now available on Kindle, is a time management system for achievers focused on meaningful results. The power of Getting Results the Agile Way is that it combines some of the best practices for thinking, feeling, and taking action into one simple system to help achievers make the most of what they’ve got.
You can read the rest of the press release at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/10/prweb8914806.htm
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein
Simplicity is among the ultimate of pursuits. It’s one of your most efficient and effective tools in your toolbox. I used simplicity as the basis for my personal results system, Agile Results, and it’s served me well for more than a decade.
And yet, simplicity still isn’t treated as a first-class citizen.
It’s almost always considered as an afterthought. And, by then, it’s too little, too late.
In the book, Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Developer Best Practices), Roger Sessions shares his insights on how simplicity is the ultimate enabler to solving the myriad of problems that complexity creates.
Simplicity is the only thing that actually works.
Via Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Developer Best Practices):
“So yes, the problems are complex. But complex problems do not ipso facto require complex solutions. Au contraire! The basic premise of this book is that simple solutions are the only solutions to complex problems that work. The complex solutions are simply too complex.”
It sounds obvious but it’s true. You can’t solve a problem with the same complexity that got you there in the first place.
“The antidote to complexity is simplicity. Replace complexity with simplicity and the battle is three-quarters over. Of course, replacing complexity with simplicity is not necessarily simple.”
If you want to achieve simplicity, you first have to explicitly focus on it as a core value.
“The first thing you need to do to achieve simplicity is focus on simplicity as a core value. We all discuss the importance of agility, security, performance, and reliability of IT systems as if they are the most important of all requirements. We need to hold simplicity to as high a standard as we hold these other features. We need to understand what makes architectures simple with as much critical reasoning as we use to understand what makes architectures secure, fast, or reliable. In fact, I argue that simplicity is not merely the equal of these other characteristics; it is superior to all of them. It is, in many ways, the ultimate enabler.”
Complex systems work against security.
“Take security for example. Simple systems that lack security can be made secure. Complex systems that appear to be secure usually aren't. And complex systems that aren't secure are virtually impossible to make either simple or secure.”
Complexity works against agility, and agility is the key to lasting solutions.
“Consider agility. Simple systems, with their well-defined and minimal interactions, can be put together in new ways that were never considered when these systems were first created. Complex systems can never used in an agile way. They are simply too complex. And, of course, retrospectively making them simple is almost impossible.”
And that’s the problem.
“Yet, despite the importance of simplicity as a core system requirement, simplicity is almost never considered in architectural planning, development, or reviews. I recently finished a number of speaking engagements. I spoke to more than 100 enterprise architects, CIOs, and CTOs spanning many organizations and countries. In each presentation, I asked if anybody in the audience had ever considered simplicity as a critical architectural feature for any projects on which they had participated. Not one person had. Ever.”
Simplicity is a quest. And the quest is never over. Simplicity is a ongoing pursuit and it’s a dynamic one. It’s not a one time event, and it’s not static.
“The quest for simplicity is never over. Even systems that are designed from the beginning with simplicity in mind (rare systems, indeed!) will find themselves under a never-ending attack. A quick tweak for performance here, a quick tweak for interoperability there, and before you know it, a system that was beautifully simple two years ago has deteriorated into a mass of incomprehensibility.”
Simplicity is your ultimate sword for hacking your way through complexity … in work … in life … in systems … and ecosystems.
Wield it wisely.
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In the article, The Strategy Accelerator, Alfred Griffioen shares some specific examples of how today’s landscape changes the competitive arena:
I’ve seen this in action, and I like how Alfred called these out. It helps us not just see the landscape, but start to form new rules for the road.
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I’m an avid collector of proven practices for execution and getting results. Execution is your best friend, among changing times and evolving landscapes, especially when you combine your execution with effective strategy.
One of the key practices for successful companies is digitizing their core processes. Digitizing your core processes can create higher profitability, reduce time to market, and get more value from your IT investments, while lowering your IT costs. That may sound too good to be true, but that’s a taste of what some of the data is showing. Regardless of the data, you may have experienced this yourself first-hand, if you’ve seen a company that really has it’s IT act together.
In the book, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, by Jeane W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson, the authors write about the difference that makes some companies survive and thrive, while others fold.
Higher Profitability, Faster Time to Market, and More Value from their IT Digitizing your core processes can help you in multiple ways. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“We surveyed 103 U.S. and European companies about there IT and IT-enabled business processes. Thirty-four percent of those had digitized their core processes. Relative to their competitors, these companies have higher profitability, experience a faster time to market, and get more value from their IT investments. They have better access to shared customer data, lower risk of mission-critical systems failures, and 80 percent higher senior management satisfaction with technology. Yet, companies who have digitized their core processes have 25 percent lower IT costs. These are the benefits of an effective foundation for execution.”
Leading Edge Companies Pull Further and Further Ahead A good foundation for execution can help you focus, invest wisely, and get ahead. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“In contrast, 12 percent of the companies we studied are frittering away management attention and technology investments on a myriad of (perhaps) locally sensible projects that don’t support enterprise wide objectives. Another 48 percent of the companies are cutting waste from their IT budgets but haven’t figured out how to increase value from IT. Meanwhile, a few leading-edge companies are leveraging a foundation for execution to pull further and further ahead.”
Companies with a Good Foundation for Execution Have an Increasing Advantage A good foundation for execution is an exponential advantage. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“As such statistics show, companies with a good foundation for execution have an increasing advantage over those that don’t. In this book, we describe how to design, build, and leverage a foundation for execution. Based on survey and case study research at more than 400 companies in the United States and Europe, we provide insights, tools, and language to help managers recognize their core operations, digitize their core to more efficiently support their strategy, and exploit their foundation for execution to achieve business agility and profitable growth.”
I’ve seen the force multiplier of strategy+execution, and it’s no surprise why that is the difference that makes the difference between companies that thrive, and ones that die.
Every time you have to remember what’s next to do, you waste your time. You've heard of "paper shuffling." This is like "thought shuffling." You spend a lot of time shuffling your thoughts around, but not actually doing anything.
Enter stage right … the power of lists.
Time management tips #15 is make lists for action. Use lists to organize and take more effective action. Lists are your friend. They help you organize your thoughts and ideas into action. Pilots use checklists. Sure they know what to do, but they also know that having the checklist helps free up their mind (specifically, their prefontal cortex). Teams use inspection lists to drive quality, share processes, and share work. Companies large and small use checklists for quality control and streamlining performance.
You can use lists to streamline yourself, improve your own quality, and simplify your work.
When you make your lists, test them against effectiveness. Keep them as simple as possible, but make sure they help you. Never become a slave to your list. If your list gets too big, start a new one and carry the good forward. Let things slough off.
Here are some of the most useful lists to have, when it comes to organizing your work and guiding your action:
Another useful list is a quick list of the steps for a given task. This can help you stay on track, or remember where you are, or easily find the next step. The trick is not to over do this, or over-engineer your steps, or worse, forget to be flexible in your approach. Focus on the goal, but stay flexible in how you achieve it.
Goals are always your guide.
Use lists to organize your work, organize your actions, and simplify your work and life.
For free, self-paced modules on time management training , check out 30 Days of Getting Results, and for more time management tips check out Getting Results.com.
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Back in 2010, Gartner suggested that Business Value Realization would be Enterprise Architecture finally done right. Related, when people were confused by the scope of Value Realization, all we did was add "Business” up front (i.e. “Business Value Realization”) and that seemed to add instant clarity for people, and they said they got it.
They realized that it was all about extracting business value and accelerating business value.
The most interesting pattern I think I see is not that value is an individual thing.
It's that any individual can create value in today’s world – with their network, the ways they work, the technology at their fingertips -- they can focus on their end users and continuous learning, and operate without walls.
In fact, the enticing promise of the Enterprise Social vision is comprehensive collaboration.
There was an uprising in the developer world to create customer value -- it was agile.
It seems like the world is experiencing another uprising (and you hear Satya Nadella talk about a focus on individuals whether in business or life, focused on learning, collaborating, and changing the world.)
So it's not the CIO, the CEO, etc.
What is the new uprising?
Value is everybody's job.
In their Value Disciplines Model, Treacy and Wiersema suggest that a business should focus on one of three value disciplines for success:
This re-enforces the idea by John Hagel and Marc Singer to split businesses into three core types (infrastructure businesses, product innovation businesses, and customer relationship businesses.)
The question of course is whether, does Traecy and Wiersema’s model hold up in today’s world, where business blends with technology, and social media makes customer intimacy a commodity?
I wrote a simple step-by-step How To on How To – Achieve a Peaceful Calm.
It’s a simple way to achieve a peaceful calm state of mind. When your mind is relaxed, you can take in information with less distortion. You’re connected to your emotions, but rather than being overwhelmed or randomized, it’s more like using your emotions as input. When your mind is ready, you are responsive. You are able to easily see the situation and respond with skill instead of react out of fear or anxiety. When your mind is resourceful, you are able to easily think the thoughts that serve you. Your creative mind is ready to solve problems with you instead of work against you.
If your mind has been buzzing, you haven’t felt centered in a long time, and it feels like you’ve been building up, as Scott Hanselman would say, “Psychic Weight”, then you are in for a treat.
Take How To – Achieve Peaceful Calm for a test drive and let me know if it helps you get back in your zone.
I put together a collection of several of my greatest “ah-has” that have served me in work and life:
It’s no ordinary collection of insight. I attempted to capture things you can use everyday, and apply for the rest of your life. For example, have you ever wondered if there’s a way to really defeat procrastination? Is will power something you are just born with or can you develop it? When you are motivating yourself, should you focus on what you’ve already done, or should you focus on what’s left to do?
This collection covers various topics including communication skills, personal development, mind skills, motivation skills, and more. I paid special attention to things that can trip us up on a daily basis. For example, one of traps of the mind is the “I knew it all along” phenomenon”, which is also known as “hindsight bias” (and I like to call it 20/20 hindsight.)
To make the collection easy to use, I tried to do two things: 1) Provide the name of the insight or technique, and 2) Share a sticky little way to remember it in your mind. For example, I paired “Black Swan Theory” with “expect the unexpected.” I kept the insights compact and to the point. If you scan the list, you’ll have a wealth of wisdom at your finger tips.
I also focused heavily on surfacing many of the banes and burdens of our existence. For example, one of the worst traps to fall into is “learned helplessness.” It’s when you basically feel like you can’t win, so you give up, or stop trying. That sucks. There is answer to this, and it all comes down to our self-talk. If we develop a healthy “explanatory style”, we help stay out of the trap. Maybe you don’t fall into the trap, but maybe someone you know does, or maybe you are helping your kids learn how to thrive in the world … they need to learn this early on.
I also paid special attention to areas that address personal development and self-awareness. If you can build a great “owner’s manual” and “driver’s guide”, then you can truly make the most of what you’ve got. For example, have you heard of “The Golden Circle”? It’s the secret of many great leaders, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Steve Jobs. It’s all about how you think, act, and communicate from the inside out. In fact, many Microsoft leaders have this tool in their tool-belt, and it helps them make meaning, in their day to day activities, and in the bigger picture, we call life.
The post not only reflects a lifetime of learnings, but the post itself was hand-crafted with care. This is actually the post that has taken me the most time to write … ever. It’s not the length. It was the challenge of finding a compact way to distill so many lessons, and create an effective “hub/spoke”model, where each “spoke” or insight can point to more. It was also the challenge of how to sequence the insights. I played with several variations and ran them by folks to try to find what works best. I finally settled on a pattern where it’s in alphabetical order by the name of the insights, and coupled that to an actionable insight to make each one memorable.
Here is a key tip on how to make the most of the list. As you read the 101 Insights and Actions for Work and Life, find three take aways that you can immediately apply.
You probably already know that emotional intelligence, or “EQ”, is a key to success in work and life.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of yourself, others, and groups.
It’s the key to helping you respond vs. react. When we react, it’s our lizard brain in action. When we respond, we are aware of our emotions, but they are input, and they don’t rule our actions. Instead, emotions inform our actions.
Emotional intelligence is how you avoid letting other people push your buttons. And, at the same time, you can push your own buttons, because of your self-awareness.
Emotional intelligence takes empathy. Empathy, simply put, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
When somebody is intelligent, and has a high IQ, you would think that they would be successful.
But, if there is a lack of EQ (emotional intelligence), then their relationships suffer.
As a result, their effectiveness, their influence, and their impact are marginalized.
That’s what makes emotional intelligence such an important and powerful leadership skill.
And, it’s emotional intelligence that often sets leaders apart.
Truly exceptional leaders, not only demonstrate emotional intelligence, but within emotional intelligence, they stand out.
Outstanding leaders shine in the following 7 emotional intelligence competencies: Self-reliance, Assertiveness, Optimism, Self-Actualization, Self-Confidence, Relationship Skills, and Empathy.
I’ve summarized 10 Big Ideas from Emotional Capitalists: The Ultimate Guide to Developing Emotional Intelligence for Leaders. It’s an insightful book by Martyn Newman, and it’s one of the best books I’ve read on the art and science of emotional intelligence. What sets this book apart is that Newman focused on turning emotional intelligence into a skill you can practice, with measurable results (he has a scoring system.)
If there’s one take away, it’s really this. The leaders that get the best results know how to get employees and customers emotionally invested in the business.
Without emotional investment, people don’t bring out their best and you end up with a brand that’s blah.
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It’s long over-do, but I finally wrote up my 10 Big Ideas from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
What can I say … the book is a classic.
I remember when my Dad first recommended that I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People long ago. In his experience, while Tony Robbins was more focused on Personality Ethic, Stephen Covey at the time was more focused on Character Ethic. At the end of the day, they are both complimentary, and one without the other is a failed strategy.
While writing 10 Big Ideas from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I was a little torn on what to keep in and what to leave out. The book is jam packed with insights, powerful patterns, and proven practices for personal change. I remembered reading about the Law of the Harvest, where you reap what you sow. I remembered reading about how to think Win/Win, and how that helps you change the game from a scarcity mentality to a mindset of abundance. I remembered reading about how we can move up the stack in terms of time management if we focus less on To Dos and more on relationships and results. I remembered reading about how if we want to be heard, we need to first seek to understand.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is probably one of the most profound books on the planet when it comes to personal change and empowerment.
It’s full of mental models and big ideas.
What I really like about Covey’s approach is that he bridged work and life. Rather than splinter our lives, Covey found a way to integrate our lives more holistically, to combine our personal and professional lives through principles that empower us, and help us lead a more balanced life.
Here is a summary list of 10 Big Ideas from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
In my post, I’ve summarized each one and provided one of my favorite highlights from the book that brings each idea to life.
To do great things, it helps to study people that do great things and show us better ways to do things. It helps us build our reference library of what’s possible and it helps inspire us to new levels of success.
Most importantly, it expands our capabilities.
Chalene Johnson is a powerhouse when it comes to personal development. She continuously pushes herself, while expanding and exploring what’s possible physically, mentally. and emotionally. She’s a unique blend of entrepreneur, physical fitness expert, choreographer, author, life changer, and motivational speaker … and we can learn a lot from her approach.
I wrote up 27 lessons from Chalene Johson, but my favorite lesson is actually Lesson #7 – Success isn’t magic, it’s a method:
Chalene says, “It’s NOT luck — it’s KNOW HOW. There is a formula for everything.” You have to study the people that have the results that you want. Learn from their formula. Study what made them successful. If you can find the proven practices and the methods that work, you’ll speed up your success, and you’ll avoid the dead-ends. Finding a formula helps you establish and practices routines that will help you get better and better over time.
Personally, I’ve found this to be true time and time again. Whenever I got stuck, it was my strategy or approach. I just didn’t know the right formula or who to model from. There’s always a recipe. One of the most important things I learned on the Microsoft patterns & practices team is that if you look to the right sources, you’ll find the proven practices or the patterns that really work, even if it’s not well-known (in fact, part of our job on the Microsoft patterns & practices team was really to share and scale this knowledge more broadly.)
I’ve shared my personal rapid results formula before in The Way of Success, and it helps elaborate on how to model success in a more effective way. As Tony Robbins says, success leaves clues. We just need to be good students of possibility to find them and apply them.
Even if you’re not into working out, I think you'll enjoy lessons from Chalene Johnson on personal development, productivity, motivation, and more.
I wrote another book review: The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives that Make You Feel Alive
I've been reading a lot of books lately, looking for ones that I can use at Microsoft. Microsoft is a challenging environment that pits your skills against some tough challenges. When you're working in an arena that supports the world, the game gets tougher. As you move up the stack, there is no shortage of traps, pitfalls, and challenges to stretch and grow you in new ways.
The way I stay on top of the game is primarily through three things:
I read a lot of books, anything from project management, to business skills, to personal development, to leadership and strategy. It's not like you can ever be too good, and the game is always changing. Learning the right methodology, method, or technique can be the difference between success and failure. Some of the best tools are new ways of looking at the world.
People can show you things fast. Like “monkey see, monkey do”, great habits can rub off on you, if you surround yourself with great people. People really are the short-cuts. More precisely, mentors are the absolute short-cuts. They've been there, and done that, so they can save you a lot of pain and help you avoid dead ends. They can also light the path to a better way of doing things. People really are the way to achieve better, faster, cheaper results in the real-world. When you experience masters in action practicing their craft, you know exactly what I mean.
Practice is taking the science and applying it to the real world. That's the art part. While practice doesn't make perfect, it does build skill, and skills are the difference that makes the difference. Motivation and ability are one thing, but skills are the amplifier of what's possible. The greatest growth I have seen time and again is when somebody expands their capabilities with new skills. It's how they change their game, play at a new level, and transform what they are capable of. It's like a martial artist graduating through the belts.
Anyway, back to my point about books. The beauty of books is that they are a fast way to learn smarter ways for better days. One of the most insightful books I've read lately, is The Charge, by Brendon Burchard. It's a book about how to light your soul on fire and bring out your best in work and life. What I like about the book is that it introduces a new framework for motivation that goes beyond what we need, and puts a new spin on what we want, backed by the latest neuroscience and positive psychology.
I wrote a book review that gives you a guided tour of the book and what you'll learn:
Note – My book review format is evolving. I’m trying to develop a format and structure that helps you very quickly get a tour of the book, and really understand what problems the book is solving, and what’s really in it for you. It doesn’t replace book reviews on Amazon, but it should be a nice supplement in that it gives you a quick bird’s-eye view, as well as deep dives into the content of the book.
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.
Glenn Watt, Senior Editor of Time Management Magazine, tells me that the first edition of Time Management Magazine will feature an article on Agile Results. Here is the press release:
JD Meier Article in the First Special Free Issue of Time Management Magazine
The first issue will be available September 23rd. The second issue will be available Oct 28th.
As you may know, I’m a fan of time management. Time is all we’ve got, and I think one of the best skills we can learn in live is how to spend our time on the right things, the right way, with the right energy. That’s the stuff that meaning, legacy, and impact are born from.
So I’m looking forward to the first edition of Time Management Magazine, and I’ll curious to see what sorts of frameworks, methodologies, tools, systems, principles, patterns, and practices get a focus.
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.
Getting Results the Agile Way is a personal results system for work and life. It’s about making the most of what you’ve got, and helping you get exponential results, by working on the right things, at the right time, the right way, with the right energy. Most importantly, it’s about getting meaningful results, not simply doing more things. It’s also the playbook I wish somebody gave me when I started. It would have save me a lot of time, hard lessons, and accelerated my path in a more sustainable way.
The heart of the system is three parts:
That’s the system. But the system comes to life when you hear how people use it or how it changes their life.
Meet Tim Kropp.
Tim is an Information Security Program Manager, and here is his story of using Getting Results the Agile Way …
For the past 10 years I’ve been focused on two significant methods for getting results 1) Using Project Management methods (PMBOK) and 2) Franklin Covey’s “Habits”. In May of 2010 I began to apply the Agile Results process, and put simply, it has added completeness. While both Project Management, with its strong focus on planning correctly, and 7 Habits, with its foundation in values, are both effective - using Getting Results provides a few things that I hadn’t expected. You see, for several years I’ve been a big proponent of planning correctly, analyzing prior to implementing, long periods of thinking, and then implementing. My methods were incomplete. Agile Results provided completeness, agility, and flexibility to my approach. It’s not a matter of the PMBOK, or 7 Habits systems being better, or worse. It is a matter of the approach being different. It is now part of the big three methods right, not separate? So here is what I think is my “Big 3”:
Agile Results allow you to make adjustments, immediately or over time, as you need them. It’s more than just a systematic way of doing things. JD provides insight, advice, through proven practices that he and others use. It is more than just a Project, or a Value, or a Habit. It’s a combination of them all, and they all work together synergistically. So, pick any given project or goal you might have. Just try starting with something simple from this large swath of information from JD (another thing I learned – keep it simple). Say like, the rule of 3, the reflection pattern and then after a few weeks of trying it out, look at the results. It’s amazing. I did it. And you’ll want more. I was completely overwhelmed, overworked, and behind in a huge project delivery. I needed a way to get it done, effectively. JD gave me a hint to read through “Getting Started”. Of course, the last thing you want is more workload, but I listened and tried applying it immediately. I haven’t stopped. Every day, every week, even monthly, quarterly, yearly, the rule of 3 is my foundation. And now that’s just the beginning……….imagine what’s next. -- Tim Kropp, Information Security Program Manager
From the Archives Agile Architecture Method -- Scope and focus your architecture exercise, use scenarios to drive the design and evaluate potential solutions, and expose key choice points. It's a way to bridge traditional architecture with more agile, iterative, and incremental ways. This approach is the synthesis of more than 30 seasoned solution architects inside and outside of Microsoft, as well as security experts, and performance experts.
User Stories for Cloud Enterprise Strategy -- A collection of user stories for the cloud. This collection is a simple map of the most common scenarios that Enterprise Architects, business leaders, and IT leaders will be facing as they adopt cloud technologies. These are real scenarios from real customers, thinking through and planning their cloud adoption.
Windows Azure Whitepapers Roundup – If you want to read up on Microsoft’s cloud story, there are plenty of whitepapers to get you started. This is a collection of the various Windows Azure whitepapers around Microsoft for developers, IT Pros, and business leaders.
From the Web Motivation Guidelines – A set of proven practices for improving your motivation, finding your drive, and inspiring action. Motivation is a skill you can use the rest of your life. Find the key practices that work for you, and use this collection as your mental toolbox to draw from.
36 Best Business Books that Influenced Microsoft Leaders – The beauty of Microsoft is the extremely high concentration of smart people and I like to leverage the collective brain I posed the following question to several Microsoft leaders, past and present, and up and down the ranks, ““What are the top 3 books that changed your life in terms of business effectiveness?” This is the answer I got.