Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
Is your city smarter than a 5th grader? This is a serious and significant post everything from Smart Cities to the top 4 mega-trends shaping technology for the next 10 years. It’s the key trends for 2013 at your fingertips:
If you’ve ever seen my trends posts before, you know they are serious business. I actually went even further with my trends for 2013 post. I wanted to really dive deep into what’s going on. I used a master/detail or hub/spoke model for organizing the trends. This way, you can very quickly scan through to see the breadth and depth of trends for 2013, and then dive deeper and explore more after you take the balcony view.
I draw from multiple sources and multiple people, as well as my own experience to really paint a picture that’s forward-looking and helps showcase key challenges and opportunities.
The best thing I see for this year to come is that it’s the year of the Entrepreneur, whether that means becoming a Linchpin in your organization, starting your own passion business, or innovating as an intrapreneur in your company. You have a lot of tools, techniques, insights, and technologies to change your products and processes to deliver better, faster, and cheaper in our fast-paced, rapidly changing world.
Explore Trends for 2013, and be sure to share with anybody you know who wants to take a look ahead.
This is my yearly roundup of the Microsoft developer platform. It includes Visual Studio 2012, .NET Framework 4.5, Windows Azure, Windows Phone, Office 2013, and more.
I’ve included key links and starting points at the end to help you find your way around the vast Microsoft technical playground.
.NET Framework 4.5 Base Class Libraries (BCL) Common Language Runtime (CLR) LINQ (Language-Integrated Query)
ALM (Application Life-Cycle Management)
Visual Studio 2012 Team Foundation Server Team Foundation Service (TFS in the Cloud)
App Frameworks / Extensions
Enterprise Library MEF (Managed Extensibility Framework) 4.5
Windows Azure SDK
Blobs Caching Content Delivery Network (CDN) HDInsight (Hadoop) Queues SQL Data Sync SQL Reporting SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines StreamInsight Tables Windows Azure Active Directory Windows Azure Active Directory Graph Windows Azure Authentication Library Windows Azure Cloud Services (Hosted Services) Windows Azure cmdlets Windows Azure Management Portal Windows Azure Marketplace Windows Azure Media Services Windows Azure Mobile Services Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio Windows Azure Service Management REST API Windows Azure Service Bus Windows Azure SQL Database Windows Azure Virtual Machines Windows Azure Web Sites Windows Azure Workflow Manager
patterns & practices Transient Fault Handling Windows Azure Autoscaling
Collaboration / Integration / Workflow
Windows Azure Service Bus Windows Azure Workflow Manager
DataSets, DataTables, and DataViews Entity Framework LINQ (Language-Integrated Query) WCF Data Services
SQL Server 2012 SQL Server 2012 Database Engine SQL Server 2012 Express LocalDB Windows Azure SQL Database
Visual Studio 2012 Visual Studio LightSwitch Windows Azure SDK Windows Phone SDK
Kinect for Windows SDK Microsoft Surface
Kinect Game Development Windows Phone Game Development Xbox Live Game Development Xbox Live Indie Game Development
Active Directory Federation Services Windows Azure Active Directory Windows Azure Active Directory Graph Windows Azure Authentication Library Windows Identity Foundation 4.5
Windows Azure Mobile Services Windows Phone Windows Phone SDK
Modeling Tools for ALM in Visual Studio 2012 Visualization and Modeling SDK – Domain Specific Languages
Office 2013 Office Development in Visual Studio SharePoint Development in Visual Studio
C++ AMP F# Parallel Extensions for .NET PLINQ (Parallel LINQ) TPL (Task Parallel Library)
RIA (Rich Internet Applications)
Microsoft Silverlight WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) 4.5 Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML)
WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) 4.5 Windows Azure Cloud Services (Hosted Services)
ASP.NET MVC ASP.NET Web Forms HTML / CSS Windows Azure Web Sites Windows Store Apps
Internet Information Services (IIS) 8
Windows Store Apps
Windows Server 2012
Windows Service Applications
Here are some links you may find useful ...
Inspirational quotes can inspire and lift you if you let them. After all, inspiration is “to breathe life into.” And who doesn’t want a breath of fresh air for 2013?
But first, let’s put a key concept front and center – because it’s paramount to success in today’s arena.
It’s energized differentiation.
Brands that stand out communicate excitement, dynamism, and creativity. That’s true whether it’s your personal brand or the business you’re in. According to John Gerzema and Ed Lebar:
“Energy is where the action is. It reflects the consumer’s perception of motion and direction. It sustains the brand’s advantages. High-energy brands create a constant sense of interest and excitement. Consumers sense that these brands move faster, see farther, and are more experiential and more responsive to their needs.”
It’s time to find your energized differentiation if you want to make this year – 2013 – YOUR year for impact.
Own it. Own 2013. 2013 is one giant timebox at your disposal -- show the world what you’ve got.
So, where do you get this energy? Where do you get this source of inspiration from? In a down economy, with more to do than you have capacity for, and changes that you can’t keep up with … where do you find your inspiration to do great things? Look inside. Your buttons are already there, and you just need to push them. But sometimes you need the right words.
Here are a few of my favorite inspiration quotes, as well as an extreme list of the best inspirational quotes I know:
If you want more words that lift us, check out my inspirational quotes page for lists of inspirational quotes from the best of the best.
This is my roundup of Microsoft Office 365 at a glance. I’ve included a brief summary of the key services and features direct from the Microsoft Office 365 Service Descriptions, as well as a massive feature list of the Office 365 Services at the end of this post.
At the start of every year, I do an extreme roundup of the Microsoft platform. It helps me see the forest for the trees, understand the big bets, and make sense of the overall Microsoft platform. It also helps me anticipate growth, jobs, declines, etc. As part of the process, I try to share what I learn because I imagine a lot of people benefit from the ability to see the Microsoft platform at a glance.
With that in mind, let’s begin …
The main things you need to know to figure out Office 365 are:
The Office 365 Service Descriptions are the important documents for understanding what the Office 365 services actually are:
Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of its most trusted communications and collaboration products with the latest version desktop suite. Office 365 is designed to meet the needs of organizations of all sizes—from sole proprietors and small, mid-sized, and large businesses to government agencies to educational institutions—helping you save time, money, and free up valuable resources. Key Office 365 benefits include:
Cloud services offered by Microsoft Office 365 for enterprises are designed to help meet the need for robust security, 24/7 reliability, and user productivity. Each service is designed for reliability, availability, and performance with a financially backed service level agreement (SLA) for a guaranteed 99.9-percent scheduled uptime. Microsoft deploys patches, security updates, and back-end upgrades, helping to eliminate the time and effort organizations spend managing their servers. Subscribers to Office Professional Plus benefit from a set of features that are common to all of the Microsoft business-class cloud services:
Office 365 offers two types of identities:
The type of identity affects the user experience, administrative requirements, deployment considerations, and capabilities using Office 365.
For more information about Office 365 Identity, please refer to the Office 365 Identity Service Description.
Microsoft Exchange Online is a hosted messaging solution that delivers the capabilities of Microsoft Exchange Server as a cloud-based service. It gives users rich and familiar access to email, calendar, contacts, and tasks across PCs, the web, and mobile devices. With Exchange Online, organizations can take advantage of sophisticated messaging capabilities without the operational burden of on-premises server software. Exchange Online supports the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync® protocol. Exchange ActiveSync provides synchronization of mailbox data between mobile devices and Exchange Online, so users can access their email, calendar, contacts, and tasks on the go. For more information about Exchange Online, please refer to the Microsoft Exchange Online Service Description.
Microsoft Lync Online is a next-generation cloud communications service that connects people in new ways, anytime, from virtually anywhere. Lync Online provides intuitive communications capabilities across presence, instant messaging, audio/video calling and a rich online meeting experience including PC-audio, video and web conferencing. Transform your interactions with colleagues, customers and partners from today’s hit-and-miss communication to a more collaborative, engaging, and effective experience.
For more information about Lync Online, please refer to the Microsoft Lync Online Service Description.
SharePoint Online gives you a central place to share documents and information with colleagues and customers. Designed to work with familiar Office applications, it’s easy to save documents directly to SharePoint and work together on proposals and projects in real-time because you have access to the documents and information you need from virtually anywhere. SharePoint Online helps businesses of all sizes share team documents and track project milestones. You can manage important documents online so the latest versions are always at hand. You can also provide teams with access to critical information and documents when and where they need them, while controlling who can access, read, and share them. SharePoint Online sites can render on many devices (including Web-enabled mobile phones) using a simplified text-only format. Like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online includes a standardized web-based administrative console that enables your IT administrator to easily manage and set up services for users. For more information about SharePoint Online, please refer to the Microsoft SharePoint Online Service Description.
The capabilities of Office Professional Plus can be summarized as: Use Office Anywhere, Work Together, and Bring Ideas to Life. With Office Professional Plus, users get the latest version of the Microsoft Office applications, seamlessly connected and delivered with cloud services, so they can access their documents, email, and calendars from virtually any device. Office Professional Plus includes the new Office Web Apps—online companions to Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel®, Microsoft PowerPoint®, and Microsoft OneNote®—which let users review and make minor edits to documents directly from a browser. The flexible pay-as-you-go, per-user licensing of Office Professional Plus is available as part of Office 365 and provides companies with purchasing flexibility; in addition, robust management and deployment tools give companies the IT control to adapt to evolving business needs.
For more information about Office Professional Plus, please refer to the Microsoft Office Professional Plus Service Description.
Microsoft® Office Web Apps is the online companion to Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel®, Microsoft PowerPoint®, and Microsoft OneNote® applications that helps users access documents from almost anywhere. Users can view, share, and work on documents online with other users across personal computers, mobile devices, and the web. Office Web Apps is available to users through Microsoft SharePoint® Online, which is part of Microsoft Office 365. Office Web Apps is also available as a part of Microsoft Windows Live™ and also to business customers through Microsoft Office 2010 volume licensing, Office 365, and document management solutions based on Microsoft SharePoint 2010 products. This document focuses on using Office Web Apps as a part of SharePoint Online.
For more information about Microsoft Office Web Apps, please refer to the Microsoft Office Web Apps Service Description.
Complete integration with Outlook* and web access to email, calendars, and contacts Cloud-based email using your own domain name Shared calendars Configurable anti-spam filtering Active Directory synchronization 25GB user mailboxes and ability to send attachments up to 25 MB Live 24 x 7 IT-level phone support
Cloud-based email using your own domain name Shared calendars Instant messaging, PC-to-PC calling, and video conferencing Web-based viewing and editing of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files Team site for sharing files Public website Anti-malware and anti-spam filtering Microsoft community support
MIDSIZE BUSINESS & ENTERPRISE
Everything in Small Business, P1*, plus: Active Directory synchronization Configurable anti-spam filtering SharePoint intranet supporting up to 300 site collections Live 24 x 7 IT-level phone support * Please note: with E
Everything in E1, plus: Office Professional Plus 2010 desktop version subscription (for up to 5 devices per user) Email archiving and unlimited email storage Hosted voicemail support Connection to line-of-business applications Dashboards with Excel Services
For more information on the Office 365 Suite Subscription Plans, see the Office 365 Suite Subscription Plans page and the Office 365 Plan Advisor Tool.
This is a roundup of Office 365 services at a glance, organized by product. It’s the balcony view. By scanning the list, you can get a quick sense of the services. Then read the actual Office 365 Service Descriptions to find out more.
Secure access Intrusion monitoring Security audits High availability Service continuity Microsoft Online Services Portal Directory Synchronization tool Remote administration
Service Features Mailbox size (1 GB for Exchange Online Kiosk user, 25 GB for Exchange Online (Plan 1) user, unlimited for Exchange Online (Plan 2) user) Message size limits (max attachment size - 25 MB) Recipient limits (1,500 recipients/day) Message rate limits (30 messages/minute) Deleted item recovery (14 Days) Deleted mailbox recovery (30 Days)
Client Access Outlook 2010 Outlook 2007 Outlook 2003 (POP or IMAP only) Outlook Anywhere (RPC over HTTPS) Outlook Cached Mode Outlook Online Mode Autodiscover (for Outlook and mobile) Outlook Web App (Internet Explorer 7+, Safari+, Firefox, Chrome) Outlook Web App light experience (Almost any browser) Outlook Web App: Vanity URL (Customer can set up a redirect) Outlook Web App: session time-out (Default: 6 hours, Configurable up to 24 hours) WebReady document viewing Instant messaging and presence connected to web email client Macintosh support (Outlook for Mac 2011, Entourage 2008 Web Services edition) IMAP POP
Mobility Windows Phone 7 devices Windows Mobile devices (Windows Mobile 6.0+) Other Exchange ActiveSync devices (such as iPhone) Remote device wipe Customize Exchange ActiveSync security policies and settings, including PIN/password lock Disable Exchange ActiveSync access Mobile device allow/block/quarantine Over-the-air-update for Outlook Mobile Mobile SMS sync (through Exchange ActiveSync) SMS (text messaging) notifications Blackberery (via Blackberry Enterprise Server) Blackberry (via Blackberry Internet Service)
Email/Inbox "Send on behalf of" and "send as" Shared mailboxes Server-side email forwarding Inbox rules Tasks Conversation view and actions (such as ignore conversation) MailTips and MailTips customization Connected accounts (aggregate mail from multiple external email accounts)
Contacts/Directory Personal contacts Personal distribution groups Shared distribution groups (in Global Address List) Restricted distribution groups Dynamic distribution groups Moderated distribution groups Moderated distribution groups Self-service distribution groups Global Address List Hide users from Global Address List Offline Address Book External contacts (in Global Address List)
Calendar Out-of-office auto-replies Cross-premises calendar free/busy (mix of on-premises/cloud users) Federated calendar sharing Publish or subscribe to calendar through iCal Side-by-side calendar view in web client Resource mailboxes (for example, for conference rooms or equipment) Outlook 201 Room Finder
Unified Messaging, FAX Interoperability with on-premises voicemail systems Exchange Unified Messaging (hosted voicemail)
Security Anti-spam (AS) (Forefront Online Protection for Exchange) Antivirus (AV) (Forefront Protection for Exchange) Safe and blocked senders (configurable at the organization level) Opportunistic TLS for inbound/outbound email Forced TLS for inbound/outbound email S/MIME (Yes, with limitations, No Outlook Web App support) PGP
Compliance/Archiving Disclaimers Transport rules Personal archive Retention policies Journal messages to external or on-premises archive Multi-mailbox search (eDiscovery) Legal hold Rolling legal hold
Administration Administration through a Web-based interface (Exchange Control Panel) Forefront Online Protection for Exchange Administration Center access Administration through command line shell (PowerShell) Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) Message Tracking Usage Reporting (Some data can be extracted using PowerShell) Auditing
Application Access/Customization Application connectivity through web services SMTP relay Outlook Web App Web Parts Outlook add-ins and Outlook MAPI
Other Global Address List synchronization from on-premises directory (Active Directory) (One-way through the Directory Synchronization tool)
IM/presence and Lync-to-Lync calls 1-to-1 and multiparty IM/presence Address book search Dl expansion (DLX) File transfer Lync-to-Lync audio/video calls Lync-to-Lync high definition video Presence and click-to-Lync from Office Apps Interactive contacts card in Office 2010
Lync external connectivity (federation and Public IM connectivity) IM/presence/audio/video federation with other OSC/Lync Server/Lync Online organizations IM/presence/audio/video with Windows Live Messenger
Meetings (audio/video/web conferencing) Meeting attendee capacity (250) Desktop sharing Application sharing White boarding and annotations PowerPoint upload for online presentations Polling Ad-hoc multiparty PC-based audio-video Unauthenticated attendee in Lync Web App Lync attendee client Scheduled conferences (using Outlook plug-in) Outlook delegation for scheduling meetings Support for RoundTable device Lobby Interoperability with certified partners for dial-in audio conferencing (ACP) Phone-dial-out from scheduled meetings via third-party dial-in conferencing service Client-side recording and playback Backstage/Content Preview for presenters Mute all attendees Mute individual attendees Unmute all attendees Unmute individual attendees In-meeting attendee permission controls
Voice and telephony Lync-to-phone (calls with landlines and mobile phones) Call hold/retrieve Dial-out from ad-hoc Lync meetings Advanced call controls (transfer, forward, simul-ring) Access to Exchange Online voicemail Team call Delegation (boss-admin) for Voice
Client support Lync 2010 Lync Web App for participating in scheduled meetings Lync 2010 Attendee client (joniing meeting) Lync 2010 Mobile client IM and media encryuption IM filtering
Exchange/SharePoint interoperability Presence interoperability with Exchange and SharePoint on-premises Presence interoperability with Exchange Online and SharePoint Online
Third-party API support Client-side APIs
Communities Ask Me About Blogs Colleague Suggestions Colleagues Network Discussions Enterprise Wikis Keyword Suggestions Memberships My Site My Content My Site My Newsfeed My Site My Profile Notes Board Organization Browser Photos and Presence Ratings Recent Activities Status Updates Tag Clouds Tag Profiles Tags Tags and Notes Tool Wikis Client Object Model (OM) Event Receivers Language Integrated Query (LINQ) for SharePoint Solution Packages REST and ATOM Data Feeds Ribbon and Dialog Framework Silverlight Web Part Worklow Models Access Services Browse-Based Customizations Business Data Connectivity Service External Data Column Business Data Web Parts External Lists SharePoint Designer 2010 Forms: Out-of-Box workflows and customization through SharePoint Designer 2010 InfoPath Forms Services Sandboxed Solutions Workflow Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Developer Tools Windows 7 Support Workflow Support Workflow Templates SharePoint Service Architecture
Content In-Place Legal Holds Document Sets Metadata-driven Navigation Multi-Stage Disposition Rich Media Management Shared Content Types Support for Accessibility Standards Content Organizer Unique Document IDs Managed Metadata Service
Insights Excel Services Visio Services Calculated KPIs
Search Best Bets Extensible Search Scale Duplicate Detection Metadata-Driven Refinement Mobile Search Experience People and Expertise Search Phonetics and Nickname Search Recently Authored Content Search Scopes Single Site Collection Search Site Search Click-Through Relevancy View in Browser Basic Sorting
Sites SharePoint Lists Web Parts Improved Governance Large List Scalability and Management Multi-Lingual User Interface (MUI) Permissions Management Quota Templates Secure Store Service Connections to Microsoft Office Clients Public Website (One per tenant) Audience Targeting RSS Feeds Cross-Browser Support External sharing SharePoint Ribbon Mobile Connectivity Office Web Apps integration SharePoint Workspace 2010 Out-of-the-Box Web Parts Scalability Template Accessibility Configuration Wizards
Office Professional Plus
Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Microsoft InfoPath Microsoft Lync Microsoft OneNote Microsoft Outlook Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft Publisher Microsoft SharePoint Workspace Microsoft Word
Office Web Apps
Word Web App Print Find Zoom Navigation Open in Word Edit in Web App Save View in Web App Clipboard Undo and Redo Font Formatting Paragraph Formatting Bullets and Numbering Styles Proofing Tools Tables Pictures Hyperlinks Placeholders
Excel Web App Refresh Data Find Navigation Open in Excel Edit in Web App Sort and Filter Data Save or Download a Copy Co-authoring Save Clipboard Undo and Redo Formula Bar Font and Cell Formatting Alignment Number Formatting Functions Tables Edit Worksheet Structure Hyperlinks
PowerPoint Web App View and Copy Slide Notes Run Slide Show Navigation Broadcast Slide Show Outline View Open in PowerPoint Edit in Web App Save View and Edit Slide Notes View in Web App Clipboard Undo and Redo Create and Manage Slides Font Formatting Alignment, Bullets, and Numbering Pictures SmartArt Hyperlinks
OneNote Web App Show Authors View Previous Page Versions Navigation Open in OneNote Edit in Web App Save View in Web App Co-authoring for Shared Notebooks Clipboard Undo and Redo Font Formatting Paragraph Formatting Bullets and Numbering Styles Tags Proofing Tools Create and Manage Pages and Sections View and Restore Page Versions Pictures Tables Hyperlinks Placeholders
At least once a year, I try to walk the Microsoft platform and do a roundup of all the products and technologies, especially focused on the developer side. (Here is an example – Mapping Out the Microsoft Application Platform.) It helps me see ahead, anticipate changes, challenges, and opportunities, and really get a balcony view of the company from a platform perspective.
This year, I was challenged as I was trying to walk the story from my usual paths. Normally, I walk Microsoft.com, MSDN, and TechNet. I know my way around so I can usually pull the pieces I need to figure out the platform and get a fast balcony view.
I realized that this time, in order to make sense of the platform, I really needed to step back. I needed to really understand the bigger story and the backdrop. To walk a friend through, I basically recapped some of the most important messages:
When you know the story and you look through that lens, many things make more sense. For example, if you know there is an on-premise story and a Cloud story, then it makes sense why there is SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online (part of the Office 365 story). If you don’t know that, then you can spend a lot of time wondering how do you figure out the platform stack and how do you make sense of what you see.
It even helps explain some of the transitions, like Windows 8. At first blush, on a non-touch device, it can seem awkward. Once you realize that it’s a step towards a unified model, where touch and other NUI experiences are a first-class citizen, then it makes a lot more sense.
It also helps to get an introduction to things by people who live and breathe the stuff. For example, we have a lot of former Apple folks, and we have a lot of Mac experts. I reach out to them and ask them what they think of Windows 8 and how they make the most of it. The power “touch” users are amazing in action. I like the balanced perspective from people who know both worlds, and who focus on effectiveness, user experience, and results. It’s always enlightening.
But the real surprise is how much power is right at your finger tips that you just don’t even know until somebody points it out. For example, I was in a meeting trying to find one of my apps on Windows 8 and a colleague said just hit the Windows key then start typing the name of the app you want. I didn’t believe him – it sounded too weird. In fact, I didn’t believe him so much, that I just did it to prove to him how he was wrong. Suddenly my app was at my finger tips, faster than I was ready for.
The more I dig into this, the more I realize I should share more about making sense of the platform. I did write up The Microsoft Story, but there is just so much more beneath the “surface” … and I think only the tip of the iceberg gets the buzz.
This is my quick lookup table of Windows Azure at a glance. I use it to very quickly hop and out of Windows Azure and to help me stay oriented among the capabilities and features.
It’s not fancy. It’s just a simple list of Windows Azure functionality grouped by meaningful buckets.
Cloud Services (Hosted Services) Virtual Machines Web Sites
Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio
Management Portal Windows Azure cmdlets
HDInsight (Hadoop) SQL Reporting StreamInsight
Caching Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Windows Azure Marketplace
Blobs Queues SQL Data Sync SQL Database SQL Reporting SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines Tables
Windows Azure Active Directory
Service Bus Workflow Manager
30 Day Improvement Sprints may just be your best friend as you start your new year. You can use 30 Day Improvement Sprints to learn new skills, build or change habits, and amplify your impact. They provide a simple way to apply concentrated effort in batch to accelerate your success.
I’ve written about 30 Day Improvement Sprints before in Why 30 Day Improvement Sprints, 30 Day Improvement Sprints, 30 Day Improvement Sprints Revisited, Monthly Improvement Sprints, and Making 30 Day Improvement Sprints More Effective. But with the new year fast approaching, it’s time to rehydrate the power of 30 Day Improvement Sprints for making waves of significant change.
If you know the story, I started using 30 Day Improvement Sprints years ago to deal with the following challenges:
What better way than to make it a monthly pattern?
In fact, the first thing I learned was that the key was less about 30 days and more about making it a theme for the month. With each new month, I could repeat the theme or add a new one. This idea of Monthly themes lets me pick a focus each month and cycle through multiple things throughout the year.
It’s a simple but effective way to add focus, while allowing for exploration.
Before that, I had the problem of not sticking with something long enough, or having too many open things in flight. By carving out a theme each month, it lets me put ideas in the parking lot to pick up during another 30 Day Improvement Sprint.
There is also magic that happens if you stick with something for more than two weeks and get over your initial humps and feelings of awkwardness as you learn something new or change your habits. The first two weeks are a step back before you leap frog ahead.
A 30 Day Improvement Sprint is simply a focus for the month. For example, in January, your focus might be on your fitness or your career or a habit you want to add or a skill you want to learn. Pick something. Maybe it’s a book you’ve wanted to write.
The key is to pick a meaningful theme to give focus and meaning for the month.
Make it a story you want to look back on. Make it a story you want to tell. It’s not whether you actually achieve your results. It will be the progress you make along the way. 30 days is a great way to chip at the stone, and the days add up fast.
To give you an example, I actually created a 30 day program using a 30 Day Improvement Sprint:
30 Days of Getting Results
To create the program, I decided that each day I would spend no more than 20 minutes and write with might. The goal was to share the best of what I’ve learned around getting results and making impact. I wanted to unleash what everybody is capable of. It also gave me a chance to show the power of a 30 Day Improvement Sprint in action. By the end of the 30 days, I had a powerful program that helped many people hit their high notes and operate at a higher level. Many people told me this was the most powerful program they ever experienced in terms of improving their results at work and in life.
People still tell me they are surprised it’s free. They also can’t believe that I wrote it in 20 minute batches each day for a month. In fact, you’ll notice that as the days went on, the insights got deeper, the words flowed better, the stories got richer, and the power of each day’s lesson got exponential.
This is another benefit of a 30 day focus … you get more than synergy -- you get the compound effect.
It is extremely simple. That’s the point. The recipe is this:
Each day is a new chance to try something small to produce results against your goal. Each day, just try something new, and keep a sharp focus on learning. Between doing + learning, you will have breakthroughs. Because you are not caught up in immediate results, you allow yourself the freedom to explore and get creative. You also are focused because you are doing something small each day. That’s how breakthroughs and innovation happen.
Pick something that will really help you in your work or in life, or both. For example, when I joined my current team, I set a focus for the month: “House in Order.” I made the goal for the month to really simplify and clarify the product portfolio for the group, and to simplify and clarify some of the key processes and priorities. Then, each day, I dedicated a small amount of time to that effort, while I worked my weekly outcomes. And, where I could, I connected my weekly activities and outcomes back to this higher-order goal.
By the end of the month, I had a simple catalog of all the assets for the group, as well as a simple information architecture (IA), and a simple set of processes, and a simple deck to help tell and sell the story of value for the team.
Along the way, I learned a bunch. Most importantly, I continued to flow short-burst wins, while working towards the bigger picture and my 30 Day Improvement Sprint.
You can learn more about 30 Day Improvement Sprints (or “Monthly Themes”) from the following sources:
Many people have been using 30 Day Improvement Sprints (or “Monthly Themes”), so you can learn from them, as well.
I’ve used 30 Day Improvement Sprints for everything from changing diets to starting workouts to learning new technologies and writing books. It’s powerful stuff, and it helps you rise above the noise of day to day, while making the most of each day.
30 Day Improvement Sprints help you carve out space for the big wins in your life each day, while dealing with the day to day of everyday life.
Best wishes on the road ahead.
Weekly outcomes are the key to execution excellence. They support incremental progress, flowing value, and continuous learning. I’ve written about weekly outcomes before in Weekly Outcomes: The Simple Weekly Planner and How To Lead High-Performance Teams. Great, but now I want to really shine the spot light on what an example looks like and why.
First, here is a simple example:
-- Weekly Outcomes Example --
Weekly Outcome: 11/12/2012
A – Z List
-- End Weekly Outcomes Example --
Notice three things in the example above:
This approach helps keep relentless focus on the three wins for the week. It helps bubble of the critical outcomes that will make or break success for the week (at least as we currently understand what success looks like.) This short list of wins at the top also helps us align our work with each other to support the goals, as well as to track a short set of key wins. Most importantly, if we need to adjust throughout the week, we are simply dealing with a working set of three high-value wins.
The longer A-Z list is our “pick-list” to pull from and to help remind us that just because our short list of three wins is front and center, does not mean we are not aware of the bigger picture and competing priorities. The three wins help us keep everything in perspective and help us avoid analysis paralysis and information overwhelm. Meanwhile, we are able to easily grab things from the A-Z list. This helps us stay agile and fluid and most importantly, always flowing value.
The two lists – the simple + complete – really compliment each other. The three wins force us to really focus on what value is and what the priorities are, and the longer list always keeps us on top of our game. We get the full balcony view. It also helps create a sense of urgency because we are aware of all the work that needs to be done. At the same time, it creates a very simple way to keep focused on flowing value and enjoying our victories.
If you want to seriously and significantly drive amazing value from your team, use the Three Win approach with weekly outcomes.
You can find out this technique and more for execution excellence in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
At the end of each year, I like to take a step back and take the balcony view – to learn from the hind sights and gain some foresight.
It’s been a crazy year.
My book, Getting Results the Agile Way, has been a #1 best-seller for time management on Amazon. In fact, this morning it was also #2 for time management in the books category.
Companies are using Agile Results and Getting Results the Agile Way to do more with less, innovate faster, and create high-performance teams. And, more importantly, achieve work-life balance. In fact, this past year I’ve lead several sessions with key teams at Microsoft to help them improve their focus, execution, and motivation. Again, all while driving a theme of personal empowerment and work-life balance.
Getting Results the Agile Way is ultimately about helping you make more impact and write your story forward with skill.
I might not have mentioned it before, but I’m in the business of business transformation and I help customers make the most of the Microsoft platform in the context of their business. As far as my day job on Cloud Vantage and, now, back on the Enterprise Strategy team, I’ve spent the bulk of the year helping shape the Microsoft O365 story in the Enterprise. I’ve also helped many customers go through business transformation as they figure out how to go cloud.
As you can imagine, I learned a lot about what it means for a business to really get back to business, as they figure out their vision, mission, and values, their business model, and their capabilities. It’s a chance for businesses to figure out what they do best, what they want to do more of, and what they want to do less of. With cloud computing, you get an amazing opportunity to improve your business agility and streamline your IT, as well as enable more innovation in your process and products. I’ll share more on this in the future.
I’ve also learned a lot about change leadership and driving adoption and change throughout a business. This is actually one of the most important concepts for the years to come. The pace of change is insane. The actual bottleneck now isn’t the delivery of more features. It’s absorption. It’s figuring out what’s valued, and driving adoption. For many customers, they don’t need more features, they need to learn how to use what they’ve already got. For other customers, the bottleneck is learning how to go beyond the piece-meal technology, and move up the stack to higher-end scenarios. For example, with Office 365, it’s not about mail and instant messaging. It’s about effective meetings and ad-hoc collaboration. It’s about collaborative Business Intelligence. It’s about creating effective teams.
I could say a lot about what I’ve learned around scenarios for end-users, IT staff, and the IT platform itself. For example, there are some amazing scenarios for the IT platform including mergers and acquisitions, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD.) It’s been exciting watching these scenarios materialize with customers and help them transform their business and operate at a higher-level.
But the gap between what’s possible and where so many actually are is enormous. And that’s the opportunity.
This is where my years of scenario-driven and experience-driven development will rise and shine by helping businesses unleash their potential.
Speaking of opportunity, as I flip back over my blog posts for the past year, I realize how much more I could have written on topics such as Program Management, strategy skills, Office 365, productivity in the Cloud, etc. In fact, I think that’s actually good scope. One of my friends challenged me to help grow 1,000 Principal Program Managers.
I like the challenge. After all, I like to take on big challenges, and I mentor a lot of Program Managers around Microsoft.
I ended up writing about a few key themes this year including time management tips, execution excellence, and leadership skills. Kanbans are hot. I think more people are realizing the power of “pull” over “push” and how much easier it is to try and satisfy existing demand, than try to master demand generation.
I’ve done a roundup of my top posts. I limited it to posts that had at least 3,000 views. For example, my post on 10 Things Great Managers Do has more than 16,000 views, 10 Ways to Use Evernote More Effectively has more than 15,000 views, 25 Books the Most Successful Microsoft Leaders Read and Do has more than 10,000 views, and The Guerilla Guide to Getting a Better Performance Review at Microsoft has more than 8,000 views.
I was surprised by a few posts. For example, I thought The Microsoft Story would shoot way past 6,000 views. And one post I forgot I wrote, Kanban: The Secret of High-Performing Teams at Microsoft, has more than 18,000 views.
Like I said, Kanbans are hot
This is a short-list of the posts I think were my most important posts for 2012:
I’ve done an extensive overhaul of my Personal Development Books List. Aside from new books on the list, you’ll also notice a new Getting Started section, as well as an A-Z Best Personal Development Books list at the end.
This is a powerful collection of personal development books.
You can use these personal development books to address the following:
How to adopt a positive mindset How to be happier How to be more productive How to change or build a habit How to create more work-life balance How to create more wealth How to develop your emotional intelligence How to develop your self-discipline How to find and live your values in work and life How to find and develop your strengths How to find your purpose and your passion How to improve your courage How to improve your focus How to improve your self-awareness How to learn faster How to model success How to think with skill How to set goals and achieve them
This collection of personal development books includes books by Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Tim Ferris, Seth Godin, John Maxwell, Edward de Bono, Marcus Buckingham, Epictetus, Napoleon Hill, Steve Pavlina, Martin Seligman, Jack Canfield, David Allen, Malcolm Gladwell, and more. It’s the ultimate collection of wisdom at your fingertips.
It's a large collection so I split it into the following categories for your browsing convenience:
Body Career Development Character, Attitude Choice, Decision Making Communication Skills Courage, Confidence Emotional Intelligence Focus Habits, Principles, Practices Happiness, Feeling Good Interpersonal Skills, Relationships Intuition Leadership Learning Motivation, Self-Discipline Positive Thinking, Optimisim Productivity Purpose, Passion Self-Awareness Spiritual Intelligence Strengths Stress Success Thinking SKills, Intelligence Wealth Work-Life Balance
And there is an A-Z list at the end so you can very quickly scan the entire collection and cross-check against any other personal development books list.
While you may already know many of the books on the list, I suggest trying to find three books you haven’t heard of before. For example, if you haven’t heard of Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind, it’s a brilliant book. If you haven’t read John Medina’s Brain Rules, you’re in for a treat. He’ll teach you 12 rules that you can use for work, school, or life to maximize your results. If you’ve never read Tony Robbins’ Unlimited Power, it’s probably THE single best book on personal empowerment and mastery of your mind, body, and emotions. In The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey helps you go from effectiveness to greatness.
Check out the list of Personal Development Books, and if there are important books that I need to add to the list, be sure to let me know.
My Best Leadership Books list is now ready for action. I’ve revised the Top 10 Best Leadership Books section, added a Getting Started section and an A-Z List of the Best Leadership Books to help you quickly scan the full collection. I hope you find it to be one of the most useful lists of leadership books available on the Web.
This leadership books list features the greatest hits from many favorites including Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker, John Wooden, John Maxwell, and more.
Here are some of the skills that this list of leadership books helps you with:
How to create and share your vision, mission, and values How to adopt a leadership mindset How to build better daily leadership habits How to build your emotional intelligence How to deal with setbacks and failures as a leader How to develop the leader within you How to develop the leaders around you How to do succession planning How to execute How to look and act like a leader How to find your motivation and drive and help others find theirs How to influence without authority How to create a culture of excellence How to create a learning organization and culture of growth How to use situational leadership to improve your leadership ability How to play to your strengths How to prioritize and take decisive action How to practice principle-centered leadership How to practice servant leadership How to establish healthy teamwork
I’ve organized the best leadership books into the following meaningful categories:
Attitude Authenticity, Authentic Leadership Change Character Communication Daily Development, Leadership Development Effectiveness Emotional Intelligence, Compassion, Heart, Empathy Ethics Excellence Execution Failure, Setbacks Influence, Rapport Interpersonal Skills Leadership, Lessons in Leadership Learning, Growth Principles, Practices, Strategies, Tactics Purpose, Passion, Motivation Reflection, Inner-Engineering Servant Leadership Situational Leadership Strengths Strategy Teamwork Trust Vision, Mission, Values
As you can imagine, it’s an extensive collection of leadership books.
There is an even a book on executive presence. This is a popular topic for people looking to go up in levels and establish their credibility among their peers.
One thing you’ll notice is that John Maxwell dominates the leadership books scene. John Maxwell has clearly advanced the practice of leadership through many of his specific and actionable leadership books. He’s written on various aspects of leadership from attitude to interpersonal skills The beauty of his leadership books is that they are like little playbooks that are compact, insightful, and actionable. It also helps that his writing style is down to Earth and conversational while staying positive and inspirational.
But don’t let Maxwell’s amazing collection of leadership books overshadow the contributions of other great leadership books. For example, if you really want to build a culture of excellence and have people spend more time in their strengths, then read Good to Great by Jim Collins, and Go Put Your Strengths to work by Marcus Buckingham. If you want to master building high-performance teams, then be sure to read Flawless Execution where James Murphy shares lessons from the Air Force. If you lead people, be sure to read about Situational Leadership so you can balance your directing and motivating styles with the needs of the people you manage. To really take your leadership game to the next level, read Leadership on the Line, by Ronald A. Heifetz, to avoid hitting glass ceilings, know what hard-core leadership really entails, and to distinguish between technical and adaptive challenges … your leadership career may very well depend on it.
Take my Leadership Books List for a test drive and I think you will find at least three new leadership books to add to your leadership development collection.
One of my most important lists, is my Best Business Books list. It’s where I round up all of the best business books I’ve read and put them in a single list at your finger tips.
Sure there are lots of lists of the best business books, but this list is unique. It’s organized by “hot topic” buckets so you can rapidly scan for specific books on an area or challenge you want to tackle. It also features an A-Z list at the end, where you can rapidly compare this list with any of other best business books lists.
But the most important difference is that these business books are not based on popularity. I hand-craft this list based on books that I use to make an impact at work. I’ve had many great mentors who have recommended many books to me. I’ve read them all. I’ve learned to read books faster in the process, but more importantly to turn them into action, and get results.
These are the books I’ve used for everything from doing rapid product design to building raving fans to innovating in work processes to deliver things better, faster, cheaper. I’ve used these business books to better understand competitive differentiation and how to find blue ocean opportunities. I’ve also used these books for understanding trends in the market and to better anticipate market disruptors.
Here are some of the challenges and opportunities that my best business books list helps you address:
I need to warn you up front. This list is massive. It’s not a “happy-go-lucky” list of fun business books to read (though, you could use it for that.) It’s a serious and significant compilation and synthesis of the best business books that you can use to amplify your business impact.
That said, because of the Getting Started section, Top 10 Best Business Books, categories, and A-Z list, you should be able to easily find your way around and manage the large list. Here are the categories I used to slice and dice the best business books down to size:
One way to use the best business books list more effectively is to find three new books you want to read for the new year. While you may already know many of the classics like Good to Great, by Jim Collins, or In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters, have you heard of The Starfish and the Spider, by Rod A. Beckstrom? It helps you build a federated community with shared goals and values, a key in today’s social and connected world. Have you heard of Managing the Design Factory, by Donald G. Reinertsen? It’s probably one of the best books on how to design teams and systems to be more effective in terms of building product lines and product-line architectures. Have you heard of A Simple Statement, by James Grady? It’s probably the single best book on how to create compelling vision and mission statements. It’s the book that taught me mission is “who you are”, and vision is “where you want to go.”
If somehow you’ve seen them all before or none of the books on my best business books list catches your attention, then take my other list for a test drive:
30 Best Business Books that Influenced Microsoft Leaders
It’s a list of the best business books that various Microsoft leaders of all levels told me significantly shaped their success.
I’ve done a massive update to my list of Career Books. It’s a powerful list of the best career books on a variety of topics. Whether you’re an Entrepreneur, freelancer, Linchpin, creative artist, self-employed, or CxO, there are books on the list for everyone.
I put a special emphasis on books that help you with the following challenges:
I divided the list of career books into several categories to slice and dice it down to size. It includes the following categories:
It’s a serious list of career skills books. I’ve wasted my money on tons of books that were not very helpful, so hopefully you don’t have to. Hopefully this list will save you time, too. It may also help you explore and find out about career books that you didn’t know existed.
You’ll find a lot of name-brand folks among the list, including, but not limited to, John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins, Daniel Pink, Seth Godin, Marshall Goldsmith, and Tony Hsieh.
I hope to also introduce you to some new gems that you may not have heard of before. For example, John Eliot wrote one of the best books on how to achieve incredible performance at work. It’s called Overachievement. Dr. Rick Kirschner wrote the definitive book on interpersonal skills. It’s called, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand. Nancy O’Hara wrote one of the most insightful books on how to figure out what you really want and how to stop thinking that the grass is always greener somewhere else. It’s Work from the Inside Out. One of the best breakthrough books for today’s digital economy is Six-Figure Second Income. It’s a great overview of how to sell your experience, profit from your passion, and create passive income streams through information products.
Whether you are stuck in your career, or trying to find a job, or trying to grow your career skills, there are plenty of books to choose from. Hopefully my list of the best career books will save you a lot of time, effort, and money to find the most relevant, insightful, and actionable books that help you improve your workplace effectiveness for the years to come.
I put together a comprehensive Time Management Books list. It’s a serious roundup of the best time management books you can find. It’s a long list, and it’s meant to save you time in multiple ways, and on multiple levels.
I organized the time management books into multiple categories for fast scanning, slicing, and dicing:
The most important list is at the end of the page. It’s a list of the best time management books in A-Z order. The idea is that you can easily compare to your own list of books and quickly find books you haven’t seen before. So the categories of time management books are nice to help you look for specific books on procrastination or taking action, but the A-Z list is a way to quickly scan a comprehensive collection of time management books.
Here is a sampling of the page:
Time management will be an incredibly important topic for the new year. As we’re asked to do more with less, find ways to do things better, faster, cheaper, make the most of what we’ve got, and make our moments matter -- any time management hacks or strategies that you can add to your bag of tricks will help you survive and thrive in our ever-changing world.
If my list of Time Management Books helps you find a book or two that helps you master time management, then I’ve done my job.
Happy holidays and best wishes for the road ahead.
Just in time for the holidays … a free book for you today. You can get your free book, Getting Results the Agile Way, for free on the Kindle:
Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life
As the sub-title implies, it’s more than a book. It’s a system you can use to get “Agile for Life.”
It’s ultimately a simple system for meaningful results. It helps you respond to change, and actually thrive on change. It helps you live your values at work, while playing to your strengths. It helps you find your competitive advantage in doing things better, faster, cheaper. It’s a time management system that focuses on value and effectiveness.
It helps you get the system on your side.
Leaders are using it to build high-performance teams and improve work-life balance. Consulting companies are using it to inspire better results. Businesses are using it to transform what they’re capable of. Many individuals are using it to take their personal development to a whole nother level.
Using The Rule of 3, you focus on three wins: Three wins for the day, the week, the month, and the year. This instantly gets you focused on value, not volume, and on outcome, not activities.
Best of all – it helps you tell and sell your story in a simple way. When you start thinking in wins, you not only find the short-cuts, you amplify your impact.
If you have a habit you want to change, you can use 30 Day Improvement Sprints to build or break a habit. You can also use 30 Day Improvement Sprints to help you learn a new topic or master a new skill or complete a project you’ve had on your someday, maybe list. For example, I’ve used 30 Day Improvement Sprints for everything from learning Windows Azure to roller blading more than 20 miles a day.
Perhaps the most powerful thing I use from Getting Results the Agile Way is the idea of Power Hours and Creative Hours. The same work that used to take me 40 hours or more, I can now do in four hours or less – a 10X improvement. By identifying my most productive hours during the week and by focusing on my strengths, I get exponential results. I’ve even been able to use this approach for teams to amplify results by using the best hours of the day for heavy lifting and for creative insights. It’s helped lead to many innovative breakthroughs and drive inspired action.
If you’ve lost your mojo or want to get your game on or find your next breakthrough, check out my free book (today only):
As one of my mentors always said, “If it’s free, it’s for me.”
This is my single best way to help you make the most of what you’ve got, and put it all together in a simple system that you can practice daily and get better at with time. You get time on your side, and it’s a continuous learning system, so your results will get better and better.
If you don’t need to improve your results, maybe you know somebody who does. Be sure to share it with them, and keep spreading the mantra:
“Think in Three Wins”
Best wishes on getting results.
Enjoy and happy holidays,
Mid-year is always a hot time at Microsoft. It’s a time to recap the impact and check the scoreboard. For some, it’s a time to shine. For others, it’s a wake up call. And for others, it’s Phoenix time.
I think between the slowing economy, the rapid pace of change, and ultra-competition, figuring out how to rise and shine in your career is tougher than ever. How do you make an impact? How do you rise above the noise? How do you get ahead?
One of the best books I read lately, just in time for the holidays, is Getting Ahead, by Joel A. Garfinkle. I wrote up a meaty review, movie-trailer style, with key highlights:
Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level
It might just be one of the most important books you read for the new year, and for your career overall. Joel Garfinkle is an effective executive coach, so he’s well-versed in helping people get over the humps in their career and taking things to the next level. His framework is simple and he focuses on three keys:
That sounds so simple, but there is an art part, in addition to the science. It’s one thing to know the perception. It’s another to proactively engineer it. Joel shares several ways to both help you understand how perception works, and how to shape it to help you make more impact out of the work you already do. Nothing is worse than wasted work or undervalued results. The reality is that great work does not always sell itself, and that you need to know how to sell yourself and your work in a way that amplifies your impact. And your perception as a team-player and collaborator can make or break you, and help you avoid getting kicked off the island.
In terms of visibility, if great work happened, but nobody was there to see it, did it happen? So many people do great things on a daily basis, but they lack the visibility to get ahead. Or, worse, they don’t even get the ROI out of the work they did. For many people, visibility is an extreme challenge, especially if you don’t like to show off your work. The key of course is not to show off, but to highlight the value in a way that resonates to those that care. After all, how will your work help if the people that need to know the impact, either aren’t aware of it, or don’t get it. Not everybody has time to read about the awesome things you did or to go and investigate the nifty thing you created that’s going to change the world. You have to make it simple and sticky so that people can quickly understand how your work adds value to their world.
And there are many tricks of the trade to do so. Garfinkle shares a bunch of ways you can immediately use, just in time for your mid-year review.
Perhaps my favorite exercise in the book is to write a list of your top ten achievements from the past year. Dig through your emails, calendar, notes, etc. and find the ten things that you are most proud of. Then write a good summary of each one in terms of the actual impact. Not only will this help for your review, but it will remind you of the great things you did over the past year, and help catalyze you for the new year. You might be amazed by how many things you forgot you did. You can also use this short-list of impact to shop yourself around and to get gain better clarity on what you want to do more of. It’s a way to get specific on your achievements, and your impact in a way that you have it at your mental finger tips.
As another sanity check, you can do a quick rating of each achievement in terms of visibility on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is highly visible. If you have a bunch that rate a 7 or below, don’t be surprised if your mid-year review does not shake out the way you want it to. Now is the right time to start giving more visibility to your achievements and to tell and sell the story in a sticky way.
It’s not too late. Remember, Scrooge changed overnight.
In terms of influence, John Maxwell said it best when he said, “Leadership is influence.” What’s the big deal? It’s how you amplify what you do. You can only do so much as a one-man band. You scale your impact by leveraging, leading, and influencing others. As Covey would put it, it’s how you build synergy.
While the framework for Getting Ahead is pretty simple, it’s full of depth. It’s backed by a bunch of research as well as Joel Garfinkles personal experience in career coaching at a variety of companies including Oracle, Amazon, Deloitte, Ritz-Carlton, Bank of America, Starbucks, and many more.
If you’re looking for a great career book, with insight and action, Getting Ahead is a great book to stuff in a stocking or to send as a gift. It’s also possibly one of the best gifts you give yourself for the road ahead.
Best wishes on your journey ahead – and may perception, visibility, and influence be on your side.
I have a Great Books collection on Sources of Insight. It’s a hand-crafted selection of great books on the following topics:
36 Best Business Books that Influenced Microsoft Leaders Business Books Career Books Communication Skills and Presenting Books Conflict, Negotiation, and Persuasion Books Health and Fitness Books Interpersonal Skills Books Leadership Books Learning Books Management Books Marketing Books Mind and Thinking Books Money, Wealth, and Personal Finance Books NLP Books People Skills Books Personal Development Books Productivity and Time Management Books Strength Books Writing Books
The list of great books is always expanding.
Each lists is broken down into more meaningful buckets so that you can explore a rather large list of books more easily. For example, my list of Leadership Books is a popular one because it includes a lot of the best leadership books organized by key categories.
I’m in the process of sweeping these lists of best books, and breaking some of them down into finer-grained lists. For example, I’ll be splitting my Productivity and Time Management Books list into two separate lists of great books (and the current list does not do it justice.)
I’ve been working on my Time Management Books lists, which includes my book, Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life. This list is going to be a doozy. Time management is perhaps one of the most significant aspects of our lives. As some say, “time is all you’ve got.” The key of course, is how to make the most of it.
Anyway, if you see things shuffling around on my Great Books collection, now you know why. A lot of people ask me for advice on which books to read, and I buy several hundred dollars worth of books each year, so I try to share lists of useful books to save you time or help you find some books that might not otherwise be obvious.
Enjoy and happy holidays.
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.
Zig Ziglar passed away. In his honor, I've put together a comprehensive set of Zig Ziglar quotes. It's a pretty extensive collection. He’s talked about everything from leadership to marketing to personal development to success in work and life. He did a great job of sharing profound wisdom in a pithy and precise way.
Zig Ziglar really had a way with words, as you'll see if you explore his quotes. He was full of timeless wisdom and sticky phrases that make you think, or remind you of how to operate at a higher level.
Here are the Top 10 Zig Ziglar quotes:
For the rest of the list, check out my Zig Ziglar Quotes collection.
Share with friends and family and make somebody's day.
If you’re afraid to look at your To-Do list, it’s not working. Your To-Do list should inspire you.
One of the things that happens a lot with To-Do lists is they can get overwhelming. It’s easy to pile on more things. Eventually, you’re afraid to even look at your To-Do list. What once started out as a great list of things to make happen, has now became a laundry list of things that hurts more than it helps.
Worse, it’s easy to spawn a lot of lists that are full of once great intentions, so the problem spreads.
There are multiple ways to hack the problem down to size, but here are the three I use the most:
Here is a simple visual that shows adding Three Wins to the top of your To-Do list:
Identify the 3 most important results you want to accomplish today and bubble them to the top of your To Do list. Prioritize your day against those 3 results you want to achieve, whether it’s incoming requests or you’re making your way through your backlog of things to do on your To-Do list.
You can use this approach to chop any To-Do list down to size and make it more consumable.
This tip on building better To-Do lists is from the book, Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life (Amazon).
A colleague sketched a visual of a recurring theme he runs into, where “nobody wants to invest” in the time, to take a step back, to leap frog forward. The visual looked like this:
I’ve seen this pattern, too. There are lots of reasons. Many of them come down to change is hard, and it’s easy for a culture to be risk-averse.
One of the best solutions I tend to see is to factor out the change into a “pilot.” It’s the “innovate, then integrate” play. It works well because it doesn’t jeopardize the mainstream process or product, and it creates enough space for the innovation play to be tested and get the kinks out, before adopting back into the main process.
Of course, you still need somebody to invest in the pilot, but at least you’ve taken the step to reduce some of the friction and risk. The next key is to show how your pilot will help the big picture in the long run. This is where you can use hypothesis and tests. They are your connection back to the bigger picture. If your pilot works well, then your hypotheses and tests will help demonstrate how you can impact the bigger picture if you go mainstream. Without relevant hypotheses and tests, then your pilot gets viewed as a play thing and a science project. Hypotheses are the key to mainstreaming your innovation.
That’s another way how innovation gets done.
Are you using Getting Results the Agile Way to get ahead? If you know the best ways to use your time and energy, you can get exponential results. Agile Results, the system inside of Getting Results the Agile Way, is a synthesis of proven practices for motivation, time management, and productivity.
It’s a simple system for meaningful results.
Agile Results is flexible, so you can adapt it to work for you, and you can adapt it to any situation. It’s flexible by design. Darwin taught us that nature favors the flexible, and Agile Results is all about making things happen while thriving on change. Change is a constant, so it’s a great launching pad for a time management system and personal productivity practices.
While the system itself is simple, the ideas powerful. You can use them to instantly change your approach and break through barriers or limits holding you back, or wearing you down. People that read Getting Results the Agile Way use it to get better reviews, revamp their business, do better in school, etc. To bottom line it – they use it to get better, faster, simpler results, and make the most of what they’ve got.
The beauty of the system is that you can use it to do anything better. Whether you use 30 Day Improvement Sprints, Timeboxing, The Rule of Three, or Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection, there is something for everyone to help you get ahead in our ever-changing world.
Here is my roundup of 10 big ideas from Getting Results the Agile Way:
It's easy to spend a lot of time and yet not have anything to show for it, either for yourself or others. You can change that quickly and easily simply by getting intentional about creating wins. One of the big ideas in Getting Results the Agile Way is the idea of focusing on Three Wins or outcomes each day, each week, each month, and each year, as a way to focus and prioritize your time, energy, and effort.
There's no shortage of things to do. The key is to identify your wins and go for it. You can use Three Wins to get clarity on meaningful results. Simply identify Three Wins for the day, the week, the month, and the year, that you want to focus on.
You can use Three Wins to highlight what you want to make happen in the future, and to highlight what you made happen in the past. For example, what were your three wins for last week? What were your three wins for last month? What were your three wins from yesterday?
More importantly, by carving out and identifying wins you want to achieve, you get intentional about creating compelling outcomes. When you have compelling wins that you are aiming for, they can help lift you up and “pull” you through your day because they are your personal victories.
Get a fresh start each day, each week, each month. To do this, you shift from "backlog burndown" to "value up." In other words, rather than worry about what you haven't finished, instead worry about what you want to achieve with the time and energy that you actually have.
It works by "turning the page" each day, each week, each month, each year. For example, instead of looking at today as a burden of yesterday's unfinished business, look at today as a new chance to create value. Your "To Do" lists and "unfinished business" are input, but should not be your burden.
If you take this forward-looking approach, over a backward-looking approach, you can approach each day with a beginner's mind. This Fresh Start mindset will free you up to seize new opportunities in each day, each week, each month, each year. It will also help you build momentum to make things happen.
One simple way to implement a Fresh Start is to write a new "To Do" list each day and each week that reflects the three wins you wan to achieve.
Don’t confuse activity with results. It’s easy to spend time on things, but not actually achieve anything. On the other hand, If you know what you want to accomplish, in the form of an outcome, then you can focus on that.
When you don’t know what the outcome or goal is, it’s easy to throw hours, activities, or meetings at something, and yet not actually produce any meaningful results. On the other hand, if you get clear on the outcome, you can find short-cuts.
Using outcome is a simple way to “slow down to speed up.”
Less is often more, if you know what the value is. And value is in the eye of the beholder. Enough said?
You don’t get more hours in a day. But you can change your energy. And, if you use your best energy, you can amplify your impact in powerful ways.
How do you change your energy? You can draw from your mind, body, or emotions. For example, if you connect what you do with your passion, you can find your drive from the inside out. If you link what you do to good feelings, you can create habits that your body will want to do. You can use your thoughts to change your feelings, and operate at a higher level.
Time is a great way to prioritize. For example, there is only so much you can do in a day. You can use different time horizons to plot out what you’d like to achieve within the time that you actually have.
Time is also a great foundation to build your time management upon. That’s why the backbone of Agile Results is the Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection pattern. The days of the week are durable. What you do with them is up to you. In this way, time is your foundation and platform for results.
The most important insight though, is that time changes what's important. That’s why “To Do” lists get stale, and you can quickly find yourself buried in a mound of irrelevant burden. The trick is to take a fresh look, each day, each week, each month, each year to see what matters now. You can also use this to look ahead and anticipate value. What will matter next month or next quarter or next year? You can use time to better understand value, and to help you make trade-offs among where to spend your time.
With Agile Results, you “write your story forward”, one day at a time, one moment at a time, one story at a time. You do this by choosing your wins to focus on, and by focusing on the change. The challenge is in the change, and change is where the value is. That’s also what stories are made of. Stories are about the change.
For example, you don’t just “call back a customer.” You “win a raving fan.” The one-liner story reflect a challenge, a change, and value for you and others.
You can use Agile Results to live your values and to drive from your life style. The big idea here is to connect what you do, with why you do it. When you start with your “Why”, you kindle your fire and you make things more meaningful.
Using stories to drive your day, week, month, and year, helps you connect your purpose and your passion, while flowing value along the way. In this way, not only are you the director of your life, but you are the author, writing your story forward.
In Getting Results the Agile Way, the Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection pattern is a way to structure your time management and productivity by anchoring it to the week. The days of the week won't change anytime soon, so you can use this simple pattern to structure and plan your time management and productivity. It’s also a great way to create a simple learning loop of continuous improvement.
On Mondays, identify three wins you want to achieve for the week. Each day, identify three wins you want for the day. On Fridays, identify three things going well, and three things to improve. Each week, you will carry forward the insights that help you tune and improve your results.
This weekly rhythm helps you establish a simple way to flow value. You can chunk things down into your little wins each day, and overall add up to your bigger wins for the week. This is also a simple way to create progress, while also enjoying the benefits of continuous learning. Because it's anchored to days of the week, it's also easier to remember the structure. For example, if you woke up today and it was Monday, you know to identify your three wins for the week as part of Monday Vision.
If you adopt Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection, you instantly have a way to plan your results on a daily and weekly basis.
One of the most powerful ways to unleash what you’re capable of is to use your Power Hours and Creative Hours more effectively. Throughout the week, you have periods of time where you are either more productive or more creative. You also have hours that really are your downtime. For example, for many people I know, 3:00 P.M. is time for their afternoon break, myself included. I know I wont be my most productive or my most creative so I work around that, instead of fight it.
If you pay attention during the week, you’ll start to notice that there are recurring patterns of when you are at your creative best, and when you are your most productive. The key is to identify these times and to better leverage them. For example, I use my Power Hours as my most productive times of the day. I can move mountains during these times. On the other hand, I use my Creative Hours for creative breakthroughs, to figure out what’s next, or to innovate in some way, shape or form. It’s some of my best “think time” while I play with ideas.
It takes time and experimentation to find your flow and get your groove on. Agile Results is a flexible system for meaningful results. It’s designed to be “stretch to fit” and easily tailored. Rather than a rigorous system of rules, it’s a system of principles, values, and a handful of practices. It’s also designed to be inclusive of other systems. Most importantly, it’s designed to be easily shaped based on personal preference and style. Whether you want to be a productive artist or a highly-productive achiever, or simply savor more of life and achieve work-life balance, Agile Results flexes for you and with you.
The key to any system is “just enough process” so that you can adapt it as situations and circumstances change. The other key is to be rooted in principles, so that the system overall is durable and evolvable. The principles provide the stable part, while letting you easily adapt to change.
Agile Results embraces Bruce Lee’s philosophy:
“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”
Agile Results is there for you. All you have to do is grab it and run with it. The book, Getting Results the Agile Way, is the best way to get started, and you can use Getting Started with Agile Results as a quick start guide.
My interview with Tim Ferriss on The 4-Hour Chef is now live. Tim Ferriss it the best-selling author of The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body. The 4-Hour Chef is Tim’s newest book on how to make the most of life.
Before my interview, I asked some colleagues and friends what questions they would like me to ask. I included their questions as well as my own. Here are the key questions I asked during my interview with Tim Ferriss:
In the interview, you will learn a few things that you can instantly used, as well as get an inside look at why Tim Ferriss does what he does.
I focused on questions that I thought would help you in terms of personal effectiveness, productivity, and time management. I especially liked asking Tim Ferriss question #4, “How do you make time, when you absolutely don’t have time?” Lack of time is an issue that comes up a lot in all sorts of contexts to the point where it becomes an excuse for why so many things don’t happen. I thought it would be great to get Tim’s definitive answer on how to think about a lack of time and what to do about it.
If you shy away from the 4-Hour Chef, because you think cooking should be left up to Chef Boyardee, you’re in for a surprise. The 4-Hour Chef is all about changing your quality of life, and improving your ability to rapidly learn. The full title of The 4-Hour Chef is: The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life. If you are a lifelong learner or simply want to bring out the continuous learner in you, you will enjoy the deep focus on extreme learning throughout the book. It’s all about getting over fears, building momentum, breaking a new learning topic down to size, and learning from the best of the best, in record time.
Enjoy the interview
Tim Ferris on The 4-Hour Chef
I’ve had a unique privilege of leading high-performance distributed teams for more than ten years. In the early days of the Microsoft patterns & practices team, one of the key driving philosophies was “leverage the best talent in the world, from around the world.”
By opening up the opportunity to distributed teams early on, we got a lot of practice and experience in creating high-performance distributed teams.
While on-site teams have the advantage of face-time and high-bandwidth communication, distributed teams can have the advantage of focus and results, with fewer distractions and more discipline (if done well.) With an on-site team, it’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to lose focus. When you create high-performance distributed teams, it forces you to be specific and explicit. It also forces you to find ways to create clarity around the basics: What are the key drivers? What are the goals? What are the deliverables? What are the priorities? What do we do next? What are the pressing issues?
Process is paramount when it comes to distributed teams. Why? Because routines help simplify and clarify the work, and create a system for results. This frees up people to spend more time doing their art part and spending more time in their strengths or making their contributions where it counts.
Here is an example of a simple routine that I’ve used on projects small and large for high-performing distributed teams:
The simple story is this: You can save a lot of administration overhead, confusion, rework, and frustration, by putting a few key processes in place. The main things to put in place are:
Before you start your week, what do you actually want out of it?
On Mondays, start the week off strong by identifying the three wins that you want for the week. This is the “synthesized” view. It’s the all up view of the three most important outcomes you want to achieve. One way to figure this out is to fast forward to Friday and imagine that you have to tell and sell the story of your impact for the last week … what would you say?
A focused meeting with the team with the goal of identifying the three wins, and the key work for the work, will go a long way. It’s your best chance to align the work, find synergies, get leverage, and reduce potential forking of focus.
One of the most important things you can do on Monday is to send out a simple email of “Weekly Outcomes” that lists the top three wins you want for the week, and then a simple A-Z list of other items on the radar. This helps you both carve out the high-value wins with clarity, as well as acknowledge what else is what’s hot or flying around or top of people’s minds. The A-Z list forces simple names. What it also does though is help create a quick bird’s-eye view of the work. Most importantly, you can ask for input across the team on what’s missing or what should be on the radar. It’s a fast way to create clarity. You will find yourself referring back to this throughout the week to help keep your sanity and perspective.
Building my list for the week takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, but saves many hours across the team by providing a simple topology map of the work. People can better align their work, avoid surprises, re-prioritize, and connect the dots between the tasks and activities they do, to the wins and outcomes that we want to achieve.
Here is a simple example to show what a “Weekly Outcomes” list in email might look like:
One of the best ways to start to create a high-performance team is by asking each person to focus on three wins for the day. If they focus on three outcomes, not tasks, they will start to focus on value. Tasks will naturally follow, but now they are the right tasks, because you are starting with “value-first.” By defining an outcome, you rise above the noise and create clarity around what you will be attempting to achieve with your time and energy for the day. After all, if the outcome is not compelling, it will be hard to find your motivation. If the outcome is not clear, it will be hard to focus your efforts or know when you are done or know what good looks like.
By focusing on three wins, everybody starts to get into the habit of focusing on value. Once you know where the value is, you found the short-cut. You just cleared the air of all the distractions and noise that you can stop wasting time on. You can know accelerate your effort because you can actually see a target in your mind’s eye.
In your daily call, when you go around the team and identify the what they achieved the day before, what they’ll achieve today, and where they need help, the focus on wins will elevate the discussion from minutia and tasks, to outcomes and value. The team will shift from “doing a lot of work” to “making things happen” and “shipping value.”
The rhythm and momentum will start to help you over humps and people will find themselves getting over hurdles and walls that previously blocked their paths. Of course, the specific practice of asking people where they need help will play a key role in debottlenecking the team and making incremental progress. This daily incremental progress quickly adds up, and your practice of focusing on three wins at the team level and the individual level, will help you tell and sell the story of impact in ways you never could before.
This appreciation and acknowledgement of wins in an authentic and deeply meaningful way will help people flourish and bring out their best, because they can directly connect the time, energy, and effort they spend to impact that’s recognized and valued.
This simple habit really helps distributed teams flourish well beyond just getting things done or making impact in a big bang way … it builds a system that can learn and respond, and continuously flow value, while dealing with setbacks and hurdles in a more powerful, more unified way. The wins help unify the efforts and get synergy where focus and effort could otherwise fork.
This is your best chance to step back and take the balcony view. The simplest way is to just add a 20-minute appointment with yourself so you can dive deep around the following questions:
As a team leader, you should ask yourself those questions as a leader, and as a team. What can you improve about your execution or leadership, and what can you improve about the team in terms of the system or the people or the output.
In a distributed team scenario, I simply ask the team to add their own appointment to their calendar at a time in the AM, and make it a priority. I allow space for this, and create buffer. Early on I used to ship on Fridays, but that created problems, pain, and panic, and didn’t create great weekends. Who wants to end the week with that kind of stress and risk? So years ago, I moved to a practice of always shipping on Wednesdays. This allowed time to respond to problems and helped ensure that Fridays could be as stress-free as possible.
As one of my mentors puts it, “Brains work better when their rested and relaxed.”
The other practice I use to help flow the information is I ask each person on the team to share with me their insights into three things going well and three things to improve at the team level (people, process, product.) I then synthesize this across the team to figure out what our best actions might be to fold into the next week. This is the continuous learning loop that helps create a high performance team that is highly adaptive and responsive to change, and learns how to learn in an effective and systematic way, without suffering from “death by process.”
A key insight I learned from one my business strategy mentors is that process is what kills the necessary innovation and learning for growth and survival in a changing landscape. That’s why the key is always “just enough process” while keeping a focus on learning and on flowing value in a continuous way.
At the end of the day, if you use the following mantra, reminders, and rhythm for results, you will achieve great things:
It’s a powerful recipe for results that has served me well time and again, with creating high performance teams from scratch around the world.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin
I know a lot of people have had their lives turned upside down. Hurricane Sandy and the follow up Noreaster, really created some setbacks and a wake of devastation.
Disasters happen. While you can’t prevent them, what you can do is prepare for them and improve your ability to respond and recover.
I’m not the expert on disaster preparation, but I know somebody who is. I’ve asked Laurie Ecklund Long to write a guest post to help people prepare for the worst. Here it is:
Disaster Proof Your Life: How To Be Ready for Any Emergency
The goal of the post is to help jumpstart anybody who wants to start their path to planning and preparation for emergencies.
Laurie is an emergency specialist. She is a best-selling author, national speaker, and trainer that helps individuals, businesses, and the military survive natural disasters and family emergencies, based on her book, My Life in a Box…A Life Organizer. On a personal level, Laurie’s inspiration came from losing 12 people close to her, including her Dad, within the span of five years. She learned a lot during 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and she’s on a mission to help more people be able to answer the following questions better:
Do you have a personal emergency tool box? Can you quickly locate your legal, financial and personal documents within minutes and be able to rebuild your life if something happens to your home?
Check out Laurie’s guest post Disaster Proof Your Life: How To Be Ready for Any Emergency, and start your path of planning and preparation for emergencies, and help others to do the same.