Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
I’m trying out a new way to do book reviews, to share more value in a better, faster, and easier way, with a predictable experience.
My new approach is to focus on 10 big ideas.
Here’s an example:
10 Big Ideas from BRIEF
Side note – BRIEF is a powerful book with hard-core techniques for getting to the point and cutting through fluff. If you struggle with being verbose, or rambling, this book will help you master the art of “Lean Communication.”
In my book reviews in the past, I shared the challenges the book solved, the structure of the book, and some “scenes” from the book, sort of like a “movie trailer.” While that was effective in terms of really doing a book justice, I thought there was room for improvement.
I figured, Sources of Insight is all about, well, “insight.” So then my best approach would be to focus on the big ideas in the books I read, and share that unique value in a simple to consume fashion. I considered “3 Big Ideas” and “5 Big Ideas”, but they both seemed too small. And more than 10 seemed too big.
10 Big Ideas seems like a healthy dose of insights to draw from a book.
I had actually considered this approach a long time ago, but I was worried that it would water things down too much. Instead, I’m finding that it’s doing the exact opposite. Using 10 Big Ideas as a constraint is a great forcing function to help me really synthesize and distill the essence of a book, and to really hone in on the most valuable takeaways.
And it’s a great way to turn insight into action in a very repeatable way.
I already read and review books at a fast pace, but I think this new approach is going to help me get even better and faster at rapidly sharing insight and action.
I’m in the early stages, so if you have ideas or feedback on the 10 Big Ideas approach for my book reviews, please let me know.
Take 10 Big Ideas from BRIEF for a spin. Kick the tires. It will be worth your time. If you master Big Idea #7, alone, you'll be ahead of the game when it comes to making your pitch, or presenting your ideas.
Lean Communication can be your differentiator in a noisy, crowded, information overloaded world.
Everything should be a startup.
Unless you’re a learning organization that actually uses what you learn to leapfrog ahead.
But the paradox is you can’t hold on too tightly to what you’ve learned in the past. You have to be able to let things go. Quickly. And, you have to learn new things fast. And, if you can create a learning organization with tight feedback loops, that’s the key to longevity.
Adapt or die.
But the typical challenge in a big organization, is rejecting the new, and embracing the old. And that’s how the giants, the mighty fall.
Here is how Satya Nadella told us how to think about what longevity means in our business …
“What does longevity mean in this business? Longevity in this business means, that you somehow take the core competency you have but start learning how to express it in different forms.
And that to me is the core strength.
It's not the manifestation in one product generation, or in one specific feature, or what have you, but if you culturally, right, if you sort of look at what excites me from an organizational capacity building, ... it's that learning ... the ability to be able to learn new things ... and have those new things actually accrue to what we have done in the past ... or what we have done in the past accrues to new learnings ... and that feedback cycle is the only way I can see scale mattering in this business ... otherwise, quite frankly you would say, everything should be a startup ... everything should be a startup ... you would have a success, you would unwind, and everything should be a startup ... and if you're going to have a large organization, it better be a learning organization that knows how to take all the learning that it's had today and make it relevant in the future knowing that you'll have to unlearn everything, and that's the paradox of this business and I think that's what I want us to be going for.”
In my experience, if you don’t know where to start, a great place to start is get feedback. If you don’t know who to get feedback from, then ask yourself, your organization, who do you serve? Ask the customers or clients that you serve.
But balance what you learn with vision. And balance it with analytics and insight on behaviors and actions. Customers, and people in general, can say one thing, but do another, or ask for one thing, but mean something entirely different.
Remember the words of Henry Ford:
“If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’.”
Expressing pains, needs, opportunities, and desired outcomes leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Drive with vision, build better feedback loops, interpret well, and learn well, to survive and thrive in an ever-changing world.
Microsoft Explained: Making Sense of the Microsoft Platform Story
Satya Nadella is the New Microsoft CEO
Satya Nadella is All About Customer Focus, Employee Engagement, and Changing the World
Satya Nadella on How Success is a Mental Game
Satya Nadella on Live and Work a Meaningful Life
Satya Nadella on the Future is Software
Satya Nadella on Everyone Has to Be a Leader
As technology and software change our world at a faster rate than ever before, we need to play a better game.
How do we play a better game?
By recognizing our conceptual blocks and removing them.
Here is how Satya Nadella told us to think about our mental game and conceptual blocks:
“It's really a mental game.
At this point, it's got nothing to do with your capability, at all. You're going to be facing stuff that you never faced before and it's all in the head. The question is how are you going to cope with it. It's all a conceptual block.
And if we can get rid of that, things get a lot easier.
You've got to really think about the conceptual block you have, be mindful of it, and remove it.
And then you can have a different perspective.”
When we change our perspective, we change our game.
That’s how we win, in work and in life.
There's a quote in Ferris Bueller's Day Off:
”Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Satya gets it.
Sayta reminds us to individually think about our broader impact, our deeper meaning, and the significance of everything we do, even the little things.
Here is how Satya reminded us to focus on our significance and impact:
“I want to work in a place where everybody gets more meaning out of their work on an everyday basis.
We spend far too much time at work for it not to have a deeper meaning in your life.
The way we connect with that meaning is by knowing the work we do has broader implications, broader impact, outside of work.
The reality is every feature, everything you do, or every marketing program you do, or every sales program you do is going to have a broader impact.
I think that us reminding ourselves of that, and taking consideration from that, matters a lot. And I that's a gift that we have in this industry, in this company, and I think we should take full advantage of that. Because when you look back, when it's all said and done, it's that meaning that you'll recount, it's not the specifics of what you did, and I think that's one of the perspectives that's important.”
My take away is, if you’re not making your work matter, to you, to others, you’re doing it wrong.
Satya Nadella, the new CEO for Microsoft, is all about employee engagement and employee empowerment.
Here is how Satya reminded us that we all need to be a leader:
“We express that core identity, being the company that allows every individual to be more empowered and get more out of every moment of their lives as things get more digital. I want each of us to give ourselves permission to be able to move things forward. Each of us sometimes overestimate the power others have to do things vs. our own ability to make things happen. Everyone in the company has to be a leader.”
Here is a great video that a colleague sent me on how to embed the capacity for greatness in the people and practices of an organization.
Video: Greatness, by David Marquet
If you see a problem, fix it.
If you see an opportunity take it.
Don’t wait for somebody else to do it.
The most powerful pattern in Agile Results is: Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection
I introduce Agile Results in my best-selling book on time management Getting Results the Agile Way. (For a quick overview, benefits, testimonials, and videos, check out the landing page for Getting Results the Agile Way.)
The Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection pattern a big deal.
Because it creates a simple approach for personal results in work and life.
You learn how to quickly flow value each day and each week. Through Friday Reflection, you add a learning loop. By setting simple targets, chunking things down, and delivering little chunks of value, you get better and better at driving results.
You’ll astound yourself, and you’ll awaken new levels of resourcefulness and productivity you didn’t even know you had.
How do you get started?
It’s real simple.
One of the simplest ways to build your Agile Results habit is to add 3 reminders to your calendar:
You can literally prompt yourself to better performance.
It’s so simple in fact that you have to wonder how could something so simple create such profound results.
In fact, if you’re not sure how significant this can be to your life, watch Alik on Getting Results the Agile Way (Video), and how it changed his life.
Keep in mind, there is a lot to Agile Results.
But you don’t need it all at once.
Start small and go from there.
One of the big ideas in my book Getting Results the Agile Way (a best-seller in time management, thank you everybody for your support) is the idea of The Productive Artist.
I’ve seen too many people with bunches of brilliant ideas that never see the light of day.
I also see too many people that are incredibly productive, but don’t use enough of their creative side.
I wanted to create a simple system that could help create more Productive Artists.
I wanted to debottleneck and unleash artists to flow more value to the world, and I wanted to unleash the creative side that many people have as a kid, but lose somewhere along the way.
They forget how to dream big.
They forget how to play with possibility.
They don’t operate anywhere near the level that they are capable of.
I want to reduce the Greatness Gap between what people are capable of, and what they share with the world.
There are a lot of powerful tools within Agile Results, but I want to hone in on two right here:
Your Creative Hours are really a state of mind—a state of daydreaming. It’s the mindset that’s important. Whereas your Power Hours may be focused on results, your Creative Hours are focused on free-form thinking and exploration. You might find thatCreative Hours are your perfect balance to Power Hours. You might also find that you thrive best when you add more Creative Hours to your week. Ultimately, you might find that your Power Hoursfree up time for your Creative Hours, or that your Creative Hours change the game and improve your Power Hours. Your power hours might also be how you leverage your ideas from your Creative Hours.
When you combine Power Hours + Creative Hours, not only will you be unleashing The Productive Artist in you, but you will also be creating a new model for working that will take your experiences, talents, and abilities to a new level of self-expression.
You will set your productivity on fire, catch more bursts of brilliance, create more breakthroughs, and generate new value at a whole new level.
Here’s to your greatness, and your fire within.
I’m still learning about Satya Nadella, our new CEO at Microsoft (but a very seasoned Softie.)
He’s been around here a while, but I never really got to meet him.
So far, I really like his style. He’s a quiet leader. He focuses on three things that matter a lot to me:
So then, let’s invent the future together.
And, in an Enterprise Social world, that includes Softies working with fellow Softies, in a “One Microsoft” way, and it also, includes working with our customers to co-create our future.
Sayta is a quiet leader, with thoughts of a better world for everyone.
He believes that one of the keys to the future is software.
I believe it, too. After all, one of the key trends for 2014 is infrastructure as code. Software is the only thing that can keep up with the changes in a digital world, automate the routine tasks, and scale in ways beyond human capacity. It’s how we move up the stack.
Here is what I heard Satya say about how the future is software:
“The future we're going to invent together, express ourselves in the most creative ways.
It's a software driven world.
The future is going to be software
It's going to come in different forms.
It's going to shape every human experience going forward.
What's the soul of this company that is truly reflected in every service every device … productivity in a mobile-first cloud-first world.
Bring our A-game every day.”
It’s a programmable world, and it’s a great time to be in software.
Get you’re A-game on and let’s shape the future together.
Satya Nadella is the new Microsoft CEO.
He replaces Steve Ballmer as Microsoft's CEO, and he’s the third leader in Microsoft’s 38-year history.
What an amazing opportunity.
Here’s the MSN Article:
Microsoft names Satya Nadella its next CEO
The First 11 Employee’s at Microsoft
The Microsoft Story
Bill Gates Lessons Learned
Steve Ballmer Quotes
It’s here. I’ve published my Trends for 2014:
Trends for 2014: The Year of Value Realization
It’s a deep dive.
Some things will look familiar. Some things will look new. Some things might surprise you.
There are a lot of interesting patterns at play. For example, baby boomers are shaping innovation. Developing countries are turning around the flow of innovation. The world is going social, businesses are going cloud, everything is getting mobile, people and machines are getting better together, and analytics for everything is bringing new levels of insight, and opening new possibilities.
I plucked out a couple of the trends to share here that you might find interesting:
Dream Teams the Virtual Way. Has there ever been a better time to assemble a team of super heroes to change the world? Build your dream team, ship ideas, and change the world. 99 Designs.com puts 100,000+ designers are at your fingertips. Behance.net is a leading online platform to showcase and discover creative work and hire top talent. Elance.com gives you access over 2 million skilled freelancers from around the world. Fiverr.com helps you hire people around the world to perform tasks and services, referred to as “gigs” beginning at a cost of $5 per job performed. Freelancer.com provides instant access to the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace. oDesk.com connects you to millions of quality freelancers where you can outsourcing your needs.
Infrastructure as code. “Continuous delivery and DevOps have elevated our thinking about infrastructure. The implications of thinking about infrastructure as code and the need for new tools are still evolving.” See Thoughtworks Technology Radar, May 2013
We are the Borg, device implants, and electronically enhanced you. It’s not just wearable computing. Devices are ingestible and implantable, too Implants, smart pills and electronic tattoos will change the medical field, among other arenas. Smart pills and smart “stick on” tattoos can send relay vital signs of a patient to doctors. Doctors gather detailed data on “neural signatures” of illnesses through implants.
There’s plenty more at Trends for 2014: The Year of Value Realization.
What I also did was a pretty thorough roundup of key trends for 2014 from a variety of sources.
And, I do mean a variety.
If there is one post you read from me this year, this is the post.
It can help you reimagine you and your world, and inspire you with new ways to exploit the future and the kaleidoscope of trends that are shaping the fabric of our emerging reality.
It puts the future in your hands.
Your Outcome: Design a great weekend.
Welcome to Day 7 of 7 Days of Agile Results. Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
Let’s recap what we’ve done so far:
Today, it’s all about fun.
What do you want out of this weekend?
You can use The Rule of 3 whenever you need it. Simply identify 3 Wins or 3 Outcomes that you want to achieve.
So, what are 3 Wins that I want out of this weekend?
I caught up on sleep, and I went to see Long Survivor. It was intense. Hopefully, I’ll catch up on a few more movies tomorrow.
I also plan to go through a home study course that I’ve had for a while. Now’s the time.
Hopefully, stepping through each day had helped you get started with Agile Results.
1. If you fall off the horse, you can start Agile Results anytime, anywhere, simply by asking yourself:
“What are 3 outcomes that I want for today?”
… and write your answers down on a piece of paper or sticky note (my tool of choice.)
That’s it, you’re doing Agile Results.
2. If you remember two things, remember to use Three Wins or The Rule of 3:
Three Wins for the Day, Three Wins for the Week, Three Wins for the Month, Three Wins for the Year
3. If you remember three things, then remember the Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection pattern:
If you really embrace and practice this simple system, you’ll be turning intentional action into magnificent results. You’ll also very quickly multiple your results, simply by getting better at focusing, and concentrating your effort. And, Friday Reflection will help you learn faster and deeper about your own ability to execute, and will help you build your execution excellence muscle.
Don’t get discouraged if you struggle with some things. Remember that you get to practice every day. Enjoy it and challenge yourself. Remember that the value is really in the change, and that our challenges produce some of our best changes. Our challenges and changes are also the breeding ground of some of our best stories in our lives.
It’s in this way that we are the authors of our lives and we continuously write our stories forward.
Also remember that sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach others.
If you teach 3 friends (family, or colleagues) how to get started with Agile Results, you’ll be helping more people find a way to flourish and realize their potential and to unleash the productive artist we all have inside.
Best wishes on your journey ahead.
Your Outcome: Identify 3 things going well and 3 things to improve based on you results for this week.
Welcome to Day 6 of 7 Days of Agile Results. Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
Use Friday Reflection as a way to invest in yourself, reinvent yourself, and renew yourself. If you do this well, this is the secret of continuous improvement. Each week, what you learn from Friday Reflection can help you tune and improve your results so you get better and better.
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 3 Wins for the Week is so powerful. It gives us a target. We check ourselves during the week, and adjust our course. Then Friday is where we really peer into our personal process and find ways to improve it.
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.
This is a powerful way to learn your own capacity and to gradually improve your “ability to execute.”
Here are a few common patterns and what to do about them:
Most important, relax and truly embrace Friday Reflection as one of the best ways that you can improve your personal performance, in a simple and almost automatic way. Just by asking these simple questions, you start to gain awareness and you start to gain more clarity on what works best for you, and what your true execution abilities are.
What’s even better is that you’ll naturally start to improve here simply by paying attention to these key questions. They’ll help you see what you did not see before. And, if you make this Friday Reflection a simple way to check in with yourself each week, you’ll find yourself paying more attention throughout the week. And, you’ll start to make little adjustments here and there that start to help you focus and prioritize on higher value outcomes and activities.
You will gradually find that you are achieving better and better results, with less effort and more clarity.
You will unleash the productive artist that’s already within you, as well as tap your most inspiring abilities, skills, and strengths.
This is how you will fan your flames and set your productivity on fire … the quiet way … the Agile way.
Welcome to your private victories that last a life time.
Your Outcome: Know your 3 Wins to target today so that you have a simple way to focus and prioritize your effort throughout your day.
Welcome to Day 5 of 7 Days of Agile Results. Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
Hopefully, at this point, it’s getting easier for you to identify your 3 outcomes for the day.
If not, fear not.
You will get better, as long as you make it a conscious effort to really figure out what 3 outcomes you want for today.
Hopefully, you’re also benefiting from scanning your calendar to get a good mental picture of your day. And by doing a quick list of your main tasks for the day, this should also help you practice prioritizing before just diving in.
You’re teaching yourself to focus on higher value activities.
You can actually use this simple picture of your day to help envision your results and inspire you.
All you have to do is imagine a simple future scene or two for your morning, a simple future scene or two for your afternoon, and a simple future scene or two for your night.
And, if you don’t like what you imagine, then re-imagine it, and play out new possibilities.
For today, I have an exceptionally busy calendar, but I notice that I have a few time slices where I can really focus and nail a few things.
My 3 planned outcomes for today are:
If I accomplish those three things, I’ll really be in great shape. I have a lot of “below the line” things to do today, and a schedule that will randomize me quite a bit, but if I play my cards right, I should be able to pull off my 3 Wins above.
One thing I’ll point out, and which I hope you noticed, is that each day, I’m playing around with how I represent the 3 Wins (or 3 Outcomes, or 3 Results.) I want you to play around to so that you find what works for you. I’m simply showing you a few different variations so that you can see that it’s not about doing it this way or that way that’s important.
What’s important is that you have clarity on the 3 things you want out of today and for the week. I can’t emphasize how important that is as a tool to help you focus and prioritize.
But what it also helps you do is to appreciate what you accomplish. It gives you a simple way to play back your results, and acknowledge your achievements.
It sounds so simple, and it is, but when you appreciate your results, you breathe new life into all your efforts, and you build momentum like you wouldn’t believe.
Don’t throw that away.
Your results are actually your own reward.
Cherish your achievements, and enjoy the journey as you go.
Have a great day, the agile way.
Your Outcome: Celebrate your personal victories for the week so far and set yourself up for success for today, and for the rest of the week.
Happy Hump Day!
Today is a great day to checkpoint your progress against your 3 outcomes for the week, and re-adjust if necessary.
But first, let's recap where we are so far:
What we’re doing to do now is check how we’re doing against the week. This may impact what we choose to focus on today.
For example, here is the list my 3 Wins for this week that I want to accomplish:
I’ve already achieved the first two outcomes. As far as #3, it’s starting to feel more like a stretch goal. I also underestimated how much further I need to take #1, as additional requirements start to come in. But the more important thing I note is that my backlog of administrative activities has really ballooned out of control to the point where I need to put a solid dent in it today.
The Agile part here is about always learning, adapting, and improving based on what you learn, and what you want to achieve within the time you and energy you have available.
Next, I take a look at my calendar, and I jot down a few of the key items that stand out. I have a presentation first thing in the morning, followed by a few key meetings, and a few sprinkled in the afternoon. I notice that I have a few open blocks of time where I can focus on some of my heavy lifting.
With that in mind, let me list out some of the key activities that I have for today:
- Present my summary and highlights of the Intellectual Property development effort for the past 1/2 year, and the plan for the next six months - Review the budget plan and projected spend - Create additional slides for the Devices and Services story - Help one of my mentees with their career planning and next immediate moves - Meet with leads from each of the partner teams to validate our initial plan - Set up a series of meetings for next week with colleagues in town from around the world - Get detailed feedback from the first wave of results from the off-shore development team - Create a plan for scaling the delivery and self-paced training across the organization - Hunt down a few colleagues that I need help on a few technical details and drill-downs
I have a lot to do, but it’s not about quantity. It’s about impact. And, I need a simple set of “tests for success for today.”
Here’s what I choose as my 3 Wins for today to help me stay on track:
My presentation is already scheduled, so all I’m going to do is show up with a simple message that I want people to take away. I have a few stories to share, and if people want details, I have more than enough, so I’m set there.
What I need to do to pull off my other two wins is dedicate a few of my open time blocks in the afternoon to really focus on them. To nail my administrative backlog, I’m going to do as many things in a batch as possible, while I have my “administrative hat” on.
To nail the Devices + Services story and integrate the feedback, I’ll need to use some of the time slices earlier in my day to do some initial preparation. I’ll also need to set expectations with my team that I’ll be heads down while I work through it.
If I achieve these 3 Wins, I’ll have significant progress, and I’ll be on track for the most important things. I still have a lot of heavy lifting, but at least I have clarity of what my most important outcomes are.
With this in mind, I try to get a clear and simple picture of my day. My morning will be about presenting and attending meetings. I’ll use lunch as a chance to play out some ideas on the Devices + Services story. Then, my afternoon will be about turning ideas into slides, and nailing my administrative backlog.
I can see it min mind. And, as the saying goes, “What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve.” But mostly I like the peace of mind that comes from having clarity on my priorities and having a simple picture of my day that I can use a baseline.
Will my day get messy? You bet. In fact, I expect the unexpected. But will I be able to roll with the punches? Yes, a lot better now that I have a map of my day, and I know that’s truly important. Now, I can deliberately trade up for new opportunities, or respond to challenges more effectively as they come my way.
Today is a big hump in the week.
But, through some quick and simple planning and map, I’m already on top of it.
Day 1 of 7 Days of Agile Results - Sunday (Getting Started)
Day 2 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Monday (Monday Vision)
Day 3 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Tuesday (Daily Outcomes)
Your Outcome: Learn how to use Daily Outcomes to identify 3 outcomes or 3 Wins for today. By identifying your best 3 Wins for the day, you’ll be able to focus and prioritize throughout the day to achieve better results.
Welcome to Day 3 of 7 Days of Agile Results. Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
Just to do a quick recap, here’s what we’ve done so far:
Now, for today, let’s get started.
It’s a fresh start. This is your chance to choose the best things to focus on that will help you make the most impact today.
Here’s a simple process you can use to get started:
For example, here are my 3 outcomes that I want for today:
Those then act as my “tests for success” for the day. Do I have a lot of tasks on my plate for the day? You bet.
Do I have a lot of meetings to attend? Yep.
Will I be trying to use some of the little time slices in my day to try and complete many of my tasks? Of course.
Will I be dealing with interruptions throughout the day, as well? Yes, to that, too.
I will be dealing with chaos while riding the dragon. And throughout the day, I’ll be driving to my 3 outcomes.
They are my North Star, while I deal with whatever comes my way throughout the day.
May your 3 Wins guide you and provide you with clarity, conviction, and calmness among the chaos – TODAY.
10 Big Ideas from Getting Results the Agile Way
Agile Results on a Page
The Values of Agile Results
Your Outcome: Learn how to use Monday Vision to identify 3 outcomes or 3 Wins for the week. By identifying your best 3 Wins for the week, you’ll be able to focus and prioritize throughout the week to achieve better results.
Welcome to Day 2 of 7 Days of Agile Results. Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
Today’s focus is on identifying your 3 outcomes for the week.
Have you ever had a week fly by and when Friday hits you’re asking yourself, “Where did the week go?”
Not any more.
With Monday Vision, you take a moment to jump ahead to the end of the week, and you ask yourself, “If this were Friday, what are three outcomes, wins, or results that I would want under my belt?”
Monday is your chance to create a compelling vision for your week.
It’s flexible, but I’m going to walk you through a specific approach, so that you know how to start. When you first start, it might take you a little longer, but with practice, it really is just a 10 minute exercise, if that.
You’re going to spend a week of your time. Slow down to speed up. Yeah, it really works. This is a quick and simple way to get more value out of the time you already spend, and you can save a lot of time each day and each week by focusing on the key things that matter the most. If you can shave off things that matter less, to focus on things that matter more, you win the game.
There will always be more to do than you can effectively do, so this is a way to set a healthy bar for results.
The summary of what you’re going to do today is to write out a quick list of the things on your plate for this week, and then identify the 3 most important outcomes for the week. Next, you’ll list out your tasks for today, and then identify your 3 most important outcomes for today.
Let’s go to it …
Write down a quick list of things you want to accomplish this week. If you need to, scan your calendar for the week to remind yourself of some of the big activities you have, key meetings, and any significant events.
Here is a simple example of a dump of actions and things going on for the week:
Example List of Tasks for the Week
- Create a draft of the slides for the Devices and Services story. - Map out the big rocks for work for Q3 and Q4. - Review the scenarios, architecture, and value story for Enterprise Identity story. - Create a simple plan for integrating sales collateral with delivery assets. - Schedule a working session to figure out the Modern App Transformation approach. - Meet with Steve to collaborate on how to integrate our methods, models, and approach for helping Enterprise customers with Devices and Services. - Meet with field leads to get detailed feedback on the information product model and any adoption blockers or issues. - Team meeting with field to walkthrough new releases and latest evolution of the framework.
There’s more I could add, but for now, let’s use above as a sample working set. And, obviously there are a bunch of sub-activities and tasks to actually complete each item above.
The idea is to quickly generate a simple list of things you'll be working on this week. By having this list at your fingertips, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this week is about, and where you need to spend most of your time and energy.
Now, at the top of your list, write down 3 things that you really want to accomplish for this week. These will be the goals that remind you what’s important throughout the week.
Here is an example of the same list, but now I’ve written down my 3 most important goals and achievements at the top:
Example List of Tasks for the Week with 3 Wins at the Top
- Create a draft of the slides for the Devices and Services story. - Map out the big rocks for work for Q3 and Q4. - Review the scenarios, architecture, and value story for Enterprise Identity story. - Create a simple plan for integrating sales collateral with delivery assets. - Schedule a working session to figure out the Modern App Transformation approach. - Meet with Steve to collaborate on how to integrate our methods, models, and approach for helping Enterprise customers with Devices and Services. - Meet with field leads to get detailed feedback on the information product model and any adoption blockers or issues.
I still have a long list of things to do (it’s longer than I’m showing here), but I have listed my 3 most important outcomes at the top. Those are my tests for success. If I can accomplish those, then I should feel good about my progress and achievements. The assumption here is that I did a good job of picking the 3 outcomes that deliver the most value, and that I have the ability to execute.
If I didn’t, I will learn and adapt during the week, and especially when I get to Friday Reflection this Friday.
Chances are you have more to do than you have time to do, so this is really an exercise in prioritization. But it’s also an exercise in simplification. You could easily generate a laundry list of everything on your plate, but that’s not the idea. The goal is to get clear on 3 things that you can achieve this week, that would make your best impact and help you focus and prioritize throughout the week.
It’s about getting pragmatic about what you can actually achieve this week, and what actually matters. There’s no point in focusing on a bunch of things you won’t do.
Since this is Monday, not only do I want to identify my 3 Wins for the week, I also want to identify my 3 Wins or 3 Outcomes for today. They may or may not directly support my 3 Wins for the week, but they at least help me achieve what I need to accomplish today.
Keep in mind, that since I now know my 3 most important outcomes for the week, I can choose better outcomes today to support my week. Awareness actually helps us avoid letting the week fly by and then wondering where it went and why we didn’t achieve the things that matter.
Similar to the week, I’ll list out my activities for today, but it’s a much faster process, since I can glance at my calendar for the day, and I already have several things that are top of mind for today. But, the key step here is to identify my 3 Wins for today.
For example, for today, my 3 Wins that I want to accomplish are:
Example List of 3 Outcomes for Today
Each of those outcomes is a valuable results and paves the way for other work that will help me have a high-impact week.
Do I have many, many other things to also accomplish? You bet. But if I achieve those 3 goals, then I will have accomplished my most important results.
It’s also worth pointing out that each of those goals has a lot of steps and sub-steps and activities within them. The point is that I’m not tracking tasks. I’m focusing on outcomes. and I let my brain do what it does best, which is figure out the right tasks as I go, as I’m working towards each outcome. But the most important things to keep front and center, are the outcomes to work towards. Otherwise, it’s easy to get lost among a sea of activities, and a jungle of tasks, and lose sight of the priorities and outcomes that matter.
Side note: I do keep a list of the tasks I’m working on, but I focus on the outcomes. A simple thing to keep in mind is write your To Do list for today, and then add your 3 Wins or 3 Outcomes to the top.
So, to recap, here’s what we did:
One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not that you are limiting yourself to “3 things.” It’s achieving 3 Wins. You are focusing on achieving 3 significant outcomes that matter each day, and each week. Think of it as a way of turning a chaos of activity into simple goals that are easy to remember and pull everything together into something that matters.
It’s important to remind yourself that you can’t do everything, and that you especially can’t do everything all at once. So, the best you can do is spend the right time, on the right things, with the right energy, the right way. If you keep this little formula in mind, and apply it when you choose your 3 outcomes to focus on for today, you will be ahead of the game.
In fact, that’s also a great way to help you choose your 3 outcomes for today. Ask yourself, “What are the 3 best outcomes I can produce today with the time and energy I have available?”
Congrats for completing day 2 of 7 Days of Agile Results.
And note, if you’ve successfully identified 3 compelling Wins for today and 3 compelling Wins for the week, you are ahead of 99% of the population who has not and will not take the time to actually do this. You’ve made your day more meaningful, your week more meaningful, and you’ve created a way to better prioritize and focus throughout the week.
You have set a powerful stage for your success throughout the week.
7 Days of Agile Results: Day 1 - Sunday (Getting Started)
How I Use Agile Results
Your Outcome: Learn how to get started quickly with Agile Results, even if you've never read the book.
Welcome to day 1 of 7 Days of Agile Results. By following along each day, you can learn how to use Agile Results as a powerful system to easily triple your productivity.
Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
You don't have to invest a lot of time, to get a lot of benefits. You don't even need any ramp up time. You can just get started now and implement other concepts from the book as time goes by, and when you are ready for those concepts.
The main idea is to get benefits now vs. later.
Here are some of the big benefits you'll gain from using Agile Results as your productivity system:
With that in mind, let's take a quick look at how Agile Results works:
This is the Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection pattern in Agile Results. It’s a simple pattern for weekly results. By focusing on 3 Wins each week, and each day, you apply concentrated effort to your most important results. Focus is your force multiplier.
It might sound incredibly simple, but that's the idea. Agile Results really is a simple system for meaningful results.
Simple, but powerful.
When you identify 3 outcomes or "Wins", what you are doing is:
What you are actually doing is learning how to identify and produce continuous value … the agile way.
And, as you will learn, value is the ultimate short-cut.
When’s the last time you went for your personal Epic Win? If it’s been a while, no worries. Let’s go big this year.
I’ll give you the tools.
I realize time and again, that Bruce Lee was so right when he said, “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.” Similarly, William B. Sprague told us, “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.”
And, Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Similarly, Alan Kay said, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
Well then? Game on!
By the way, if you’re not feeling very inspired, check out either my 37 Inspirational Quotes That Will Change Your Life, Motivational Quotes, or my Inspirational Quotes. They are intense, and I bet you can find your favorite three.
As I’ve been diving deep into goal setting and goal planning, I’ve put together a set of deep dive posts that will give you a very in-depth look at how to set and achieve any goal you want. Here is my roundup so far:
Brian Tracy on 12 Steps to Set and Achieve Any Goal
Brian Tracy on the Best Times for Writing and Reviewing Your Goals
Commit to Your Best Year Ever
Goal Setting vs. Goal Planning
How To Find Your Major Definite Purpose
How To Use 3 Wins for the Year to Have Your Best Year Ever
The Power of Annual Reviews for Achieving Your Goals and Realizing Your Potential
What Do You Want to Spend More Time Doing?
Zig Ziglar on Setting Goals
Hopefully, my posts on goal setting and goal planning save you many hours (if not days, weeks, etc.) of time, effort, and frustration on trying to figure out how to really set and achieve your goals. If you only read one post, at least read Goal Setting vs. Goal Planning because this will put you well ahead of the majority of people who regularly don’t achieve their goals.
In terms of actions, if there is one thing to decide, make it Commit to Your Best Year Ever.
Enjoy and best wishes for your greatest year ever and a powerful 2014.
I was reading The Fruits of Innovation: Top 10 IT Trends in 2014, by Mark Harris.
Harris had this to say about the evolving role of the CIO:
“In the end, these leaders are now tasked to accurately manage, predict, execute and justify. Hence, the CIO’s role will evolve. Previously, CIOs were mostly technologists that were measured almost exclusively by availability and uptime. The CIO’s job was all about crafting a level of IT services that the company could count on, and the budgeting process needed to do so was a mostly a formality.”
Harris had this to say about the best qualities in a CIO:
“The most effective CIOs in 2014 will be business managers that understand the wealth of technology options now available, the costs associated with each as well as the business value of each of the various services they are chartered to deliver. He or she will map out a plan that delivers just the right amount service within their agreed business plan. Email, for instance, may have an entirely different value to a company than their online store, so the means to deliver these diverse services will need to be different. It is the 2014 CIO’s job to empower their organizations to deliver just the right services at just the right cost.”
That matches what I’ve been seeing.
CIOs need business acumen and the ability to connect IT to business impact.
Another way to think of it is, the CIO needs to help accelerate and realize business value from IT investments.
Value Realization is hot.
Stephen Kell on Value Realization
Blessing Sibanyoni on Value Realization
Paul Lidbetter on Value Realization
Martin Sykes on Value Realization
Mark Bestauros on Value Realization
Graham Doig on Value Realization
There’s a little trick I learned about how to have your best year ever:
And, it actually works.
When you decide to have your best year ever, and you make it a mission, you find a way to make it happen.
You embrace the challenges and the changes that come you way.
You make better choices throughout the year, in a way that moves you towards your best year ever.
A while back, our team, did exactly that. We decided we wanted to make the coming year our best year ever. We wanted a year we could look back on, and know that we gave it our best shot. We wanted a year that mattered. And we were willing to work for it.
And, it worked like a champ.
In fast, most of us go our best reviews at Microsoft. Ever.
It’s not like it’s magic. It works because it sets the stage. It sets the stage for great expectations. And, when you expect more, from yourself, or from the world, you start to look for and leverage more opportunities to make that come true.
It also helps you role with the punches. You find ways to turnaround negative situations into more positive ones. You find ways to take setbacks as learning opportunities to experience your greatest growth. You look for ways to turn ordinary events into extraordinary adventures.
And when you get knocked down. You try again. Because you’re on a mission.
When you make it a mission to have your best year ever, you stretch yourself a little more. You try new things. You take old things to new heights.
But there’s a very important distinction here. You have to own the decision.
It has to be your choice. YOU have to choose it so that you internalize it, and actually believe it, so that you actually act on it.
Otherwise, it’s just a neat idea, but you won’t live it.
And if you don’t live it, it won’t happen.
But, as soon as you decide that no matter what, this will be YOUR best year ever, you unleash your most resourceful self.
If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to go for the epic win, then watch this TED talk and my notes:
Go For the Epic Win
Best wishes for your best year.
You might already know the Agile Manifesto:
But do you know the Declaration of Interdependence:
While the Agile Manifesto is geared toward Agile practitioners, the Declaration of Interdependence is geared towards Agile project leaders.
When you know the values that shape things, it helps you better understand why things are the way they are.
Notice how you can read the Agile Manifesto as, “we value this more than that” and you can read the Declaration of Interdependence as “this benefit we achieve through this.” Those are actually powerful and repeatable language patterns. I’ve found myself drawing from those patterns over the years, whenever I was trying to articulate operating principles (which is a good name for principles that guide how you operate.)
3 Ways to Accelerate Business Value
Extreme Programming (XP) at a Glance
How We Adhered to the Agile Manifesto on the patterns & practices Team
The patterns & practices Way
Using MadLibs to Create Actionable Principles and Practices
Talk about taking some things for granted. Especially when it’s a love-hate relationship. I’m talking about Annual Reviews.
I didn’t realize how valuable they can be when you own the process and you line them up with your bigger goal setting for life. I’ve done them for so long, in this way, that I forgot how much they are a part of my process for carving out a high-impact year.
I know I might do things a big differently in terms of how I do my review, so I highlighted key things in my post:
Note that if you hate the term Annual Review because it conjures up a bunch of bad memories, then consider calling it your Annual Retrospective. If you’re a Scrum fan, you’ll appreciate the twist.
Here’s the big idea:
If you “own” your Annual Review, you can use taking a look back to take a leap forward.
What I mean is that if you are pro-active in your approach, and if you really use feedback as a gift, you can gain tremendous insights into your personal growth and capabilities.
Here’s a summary of what I do in terms of my overall review process:
It’s not an easy process. But that’s just it. That’s what makes it worth it. It’s a tough look at the hard stuff that matters. The parts of the process that make it a challenge are the opportunities for growth. Looking back, I can see how much easier it is for me to really plan out a year of high-impact where I live my values and play to my strengths. I can also see early warning signs and anticipate downstream challenges. I know when I first started, it was daunting to figure out what a year might look like. Now, it’s almost too easy.
This gives me a great chance up front to play out a lot of “What If?” scenarios. This also gives me a great chance right up front to ask the question, if this is how the year will play out, is that the ride I want to be on? The ability to plan out our future capability vision, design a better future, and change our course is part of owning our destiny.
In my experience, a solid plan at the right level, gives you more flexibility and helps you make smarter choices, before you become a frog in the boiling pot.
If you haven’t taken the chance to really own and drive your Annual Review, then consider doing an Annual Retrospective, and use the process to help you leap frog ahead.
Make this YOUR year.
2012 Year in Review
Anatomy of a High-Potential
Mid-Year Review, Career, and Getting Ahead
Performance Review Template
The Guerilla Guide to Getting a Better Performance Review at Microsoft
“In life you need either inspiration or desperation.” – Tony Robbins
Is 2014 going to be YOUR year?
Let’s make it so.
My best-selling book on time management and productivity is on sale for a limited time offer, through a Countdown Deal:
Getting Results the Agile Way on Kindle
What is Getting Results the Agile Way all about? It’s a simple system for meaningful results in work and life. It’s the best synthesis of what I know for mastering time management, motivation, and personal productivity. (And, it’s designed to be “better together” – use it with your favorite existing tools of choice, whether that’s Franklin-Covey, the Pomodoro Technique, Getting Things Done, etc.)
The way this Countdown Deal works is that the price goes from lower to higher during the course of 7 days.
As I currently understand it, here’s the price breakdown:
In other words, the sooner you get it, the cheaper it is.
Here are the key benefits of the book:
Here’s what others are saying about the book:
"Agile Results delivers know-what, know-why and know-how for anyone who understands the value of momentum in making your moments count."– Dr. Rick Kirschner, bestselling author
"JD’s ability to understand and cut to the real issues and then apply techniques that have proven to be successful in other situations is legendary at Microsoft. Over the years I have learnt that he will not recommend something or someone unless he believe it the entire value chain, making the advice you get even more potent. It’s a little like a whirlwind and you have to be prepared for a ride but if you want results and you want them fast, you talk to JD."– Mark Curphey, CEO & Founder, SourceClear
“JD is the go-to-guy for getting results, and Agile Results demonstrates his distinct purpose – he shows how anyone can do anything, better. This book has simple, effective, powerful tools and ideas that are easy enough for everyone to apply in their work and lives, so that they get the results they’d like, even the impossible and the unexpected.”– Janine de Nysschen, Changemaker and Purpose Strategist, Whytelligence
Getting results and being YOUR best is a personal thing, which is why I designed it as a personal results system.
If you already are using Agile Results, tell me a story. Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly. I always want to know what’s working or not working for you. Each week, I receive emails from people around the world with their stories of personal victories. For some, it’s fast, as if it was the missing link they needed to help them connect the dots. For others, it’s more like a slow crescendo. And, for others, it’s more like a game of slow and steady that wins the race.
But what everybody seems to have in common is that they feel like they got back on path and are instantly getting better at spending the right time, on the right things, the right way, with the right energy.
This is where breakthroughs happen.
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.