Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
Getting things done, making things happen, and being effective at Microsoft is tough. Microsoft is, in many ways, the ultimate dojo of personal growth. You can never be "too good" at productivity, time management, leadership, etc.
I was happy to see my book on personal effectiveness, Getting Results the Agile Way, alongside Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on Amazon's Best Sellers list.
I’ve been a Stephen Covey fan for a long time and he really taught me the value of personal effectiveness, and he helped me focus on principles, patterns, and habits, which I ended up taking to the next level on the Microsoft patterns & practices team.
Getting Results was downloaded almost 5,000 times yesterday.
I’m hoping that it helps many people find a breakthrough they’ve been looking for. It’s a powerful book for breakthroughs because it’s a system. And, the system gets better over time. The heart of Agile Results is a weekly results pattern I call: Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection. It helps you focus on creating extreme value, while responding to change. It’s a continuous learning system, so you get to practice and improve your personal productivity, time management, and work-life balance skills, with a simple system for meaningful results.
In this way, it’s actually a system that not only helps you with private victories, but it helps you find breakthroughs in how you achieve your results. It’s these breakthroughs that help you take your skills and abilities to the next level. And when you fall down, the system helps you get back up. (One of my favorite mantras here is the timeless saying, “Fall seven times; stand up eight.”
The ultimate surprise is that you can use the same system for results at home, or for leading large teams around the world. From small business owners, to CEOs, to consultants in the field, people are using Agile Results to master time management, productivity, and work-life balance with a twist. The twist is focusing on value as the short-cut. By using value as your North Star, you shave off things that don’t matter, and you spend the right energy, on the right things, at the right time, the right way. Teams at Microsoft are now using Agile Results to get the edge at work and to quickly find ways to help everybody bring out their best and collaborate around wins and impact.
It’s the ultimate synergy of personal effectiveness in action.
The best question I ever learned to ask, when it comes to personal effectiveness is, “Is it effective?” It sounds like such a simple question, and it is. It’s also very revealing. One of my most effective managers would always ask the question, “Is it effective?” It’s the very question that leads to reflection and personal insight, and ultimately change.
People are creatures of habit, and you’d be surprised (or, not) how easy it is to fall into a habit of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Einstein is famous for saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
Herein lies the challenge. How do you change? You need to break the loop. Agile Results snaps you out of the loop because you are basically coming up with your personal “tests for success” and then testing and checking your results. It’s this little loop that helps you tune and prune your habits and practices for better results, and take your personal effectiveness to the next level.
Personal effectiveness is an enormous space, but the common denominator is you. It’s all about you and your personal growth. Some of the best areas to grow in are: mind, body, emotions, career, finance, relationships, and fun. It’s the synergy across these buckets that helps us bring more to the table, and get more out of any situation.
The beauty is that there are incredible bodies of knowledge in these areas with amazing principles, patterns, and practices, where you can continuously draw from, and learn new ways to shape your personal effectiveness. (I share many of them at my personal effectiveness blog, Sources of Insight.com.)
By using Agile Results, you can use the practice of 30 Day Improvement Sprints to add a little more emphasis to an area where you want to really focus on and improve. The 30 Day Improvement Sprints help you try an experiment each day, and by doing something small each day, you can change habits, or find your breakthroughs, or build the “muscle” to do something you haven’t been able to do before. The most important thing that happens is that you build up a bunch of little insights over the month that help you see things in ways, you’ve never seen them before.
One of my favorite definitions of success is Steven Covey’s: “Success is when the response equals the challenge.” It’s another reminder that the game we have to learn how to play, and ultimately master is this little loop:
What’s the challenge? … What’s the change?
When you learn to frame the problems in your life, as opportunities to respond to the challenge, you find ways to expand what you’re capable of. You change yourself in ways that improve your personal effectiveness for any situation. In a way, you become ready for anything.
And that’s one of the big themes that will help you in our ever-changing world:
Ready for anything.
If you want to be ready for anything, respond more effectively to the challenges in work and life, and to take your personal effectiveness to new levels, check out Getting Results the Agile Way. If you already have it, and already know it, then challenge yourself to teach three people you care about to get the system on their side.
I’ve been doing a lot more talks on Getting Results the Agile Way than I planned. Good thing I’m agile and can respond It makes sense. It’s January. It’s the right time of year, where people are bootstrapping their year, testing themselves with New Years Resolutions, turning the page, and, best of all, doing rethinks about how to be effective at work.
And, a lot of people are overloaded and overwhelmed.
They’re looking for ways to get some relief, and they're looking for ways to make more impact. Agile Results comes up because it’s fast to adopt and makes instant impact in little ways that add up to bigger wins over time. Not to mention, more businesses are trying to figure out how to be more agile and respond with the pace of change in the market. (And, it also helps that Getting Results the Agile Way has been a best-seller on Amazon for the Time Management category … thank you everyone, for your support.)
One of the things that comes up in the talks is, how can we find out how others are using Agile Results? I’m not sure, because it’s sort of a tribe thing, as in, if you happen to know somebody using it, you can ask them if they’ll share how they use it. That said, there are some testimonials at GettingResults.com, and here is a quick roundup of some folks have shared their take on Getting Results the Agile Way and how they use Agile Results:
If you’re short on time, you might start with these three:
BTW – I’ll find a way to share the talk more broadly. It’s a completely different experience seeing the system presented than reading it in the book. It’s a great chance to highlight some of the big ideas, and to elaborate on some of the finer points.
If you want to set your productivity on fire for 2013, try 30 Days of Getting Results. Even if you’ve done it before, now’s a great time to do it again.
It’s free. It’s powerful. It’s effective.
It’s helped many people master their productivity, master their time management, and master their work-life balance with skill. It’s a 30 Day Program designed to help you master extreme productivity. Whether you want to wake up more productive or spend more time on the things you love or just make more impact at work, that’s what it’s all about.
It’s a 30 Day Sprint to help you flourish in work and life.
You will learn the productivity skills of the time management masters through principles, patterns, and practices that actually work.
Here are the key challenges that 30 Days of Getting Results helps you master:
When you add these all up, you set the stage for extreme productivity and flow, in both work and life. Whether you want to change a habit for 2013, or simply improve your productivity to get an edge at work, this is some of the most hard-core productivity training around.
Oh, and did I mention … its free.
It’s free, but don’t let the price tag fool you. It’s many of the same hard-core patterns and practices for extreme productivity that I use as a Program Manager at Microsoft. I created the 30-day program as both a challenge and experiment. I used the system to write about the system. In other words, I used Getting Results the Agile Way to create 30 Days of Getting Results. Specifically, I used a 30 Day Improvement Sprint to write 30 Days of Getting Results.
So for 30 days in a row, I spent 20 minutes each morning to write about how to be more productive, how to master time management, and how to achieve work-life balance. I used the 20-minute timebox to demonstrate what’s possible when you are focused and have clear goals. For each day’s lesson, I wrote an outcome, a lesson, and then exercises to practice. Every day is a mini-lesson with skills to practice. You’ll start to get results very fast, and you can hop around at your own pace. While it’s helpful to go in sequence, you don’t have to. You can dive right into whatever lessons look the most interesting for you.
Commit to spending a little time each day to massively improve your productivity and time management skills. By spending a little time each day, your efforts will compound. This is the type of learning that will pay you back throughout the year. It will start paying you back very quickly by improving your free time, and helping you get more done in the time you already spend. It will also help you reduce the time you spend on things and you’ll create more value in less time.
You are always your best investment.
The start of the new year is always a great time to commit to improving your skills.
It’s so easy to want to do something, but then forget to do it, or not make the time for it. In fact, I know a lot of people that start it, love it, but then forget to keep going. They asked for an email notification each day. That’s one option. Since then, I’ve found a great alternative, which will set you up for success:
Add a daily reminder to your calendar and stick links to the lessons in it.
Just make one recurring appointment, but add links to all of the daily lessons from that appointment. This way, you are both blocking off time in your calendar to actually do it, and you are able to easily keep track of where you are in the training. I also recommend setting aside 10 minutes at the start of your day to go through the lesson. That way you can practice what you learn throughout your day and find ways to apply it. This will also help you build momentum each day.
For your convenience, I’ve created a quick list of the 30 days of lessons so that you can add them to your calendar appointment.
Here is a baseline for your calendar appointment:
Subject: 30 Days of Getting Results Recurrence: Daily Duration: 10 minutes
Links to Lessons
Purpose is power. One of my favorite definitions of “power” is “the ability to act.” When you know your purpose, you can channel your time and energy to make things happen in a more significant way. Purpose brings clarity. Clarity inspires action.
To put it another way, a lack of purpose creates confusion and immobility.
The challenge is that finding your purpose can be a complicated thing. It doesn’t have to be, but it often is, especially if you haven’t learned an effective way to find your purpose. It’s easy to get your purpose mixed up or lost among your vision, mission, and values. The thing to remember about purpose is that it’s your “Why.”
In other words, “WHY” do you do what you do.
It’s one thing to climb a mountain, “because it’s there”, but do you want to do your mound of work, simply because it’s there. What if you could connect your work to something more? Something greater. You can. It’s your purpose. You create your purpose, and your purpose gives meaning to what you do.
It’s you on fire … or, as we at the foosball table like to say, it’s you “en fuego.”
Even if you climbed the mountain, just because it’s there, it’s more likely that it’s a personal challenge that will lead to a private victory. And, how much more meaningful would it be if you were climbing the mountain on behalf of your favorite cause or charity?
You’d move mountains.
The same is true in work and life.
It’s one thing to say what you do, or to know your mission. It’s another things to say where you’re going, or what is your vision. But when you know your purpose and why you do what you do, you take your game to a whole new level.
It’s the fuel that drives you.
Now, then … how do you actually find your purpose? I’ve written a feature-length post on how to find your purpose. It’s jam-packed with tips and tricks I’ve learned about finding and using purpose to amplify your impact. As a special bonus, it includes an exercise I use in my workshops on Getting Results the Agile Way. It’s the real deal. It’s the same thing exercise I take people through from around the world to help them find their drive and get their game on.
If you nail this … if you truly find your purpose that inspires you … you can easily triple or quadruple, or in some cases, even 10X your productivity. Why? Because energy is a force multiplier. If you are just going through the motions, it’s hard to speed up, especially, if it just doesn’t matter. But, if you find your fire inside, you can breathe new life, even into the same old dull routines. Now, you have meaning. Now, you have drive.
Your drive can be one of the biggest factors in what you achieve whether you are a program manager, a developer, a manager, a thought leader, or whatever your role may be.
Make 2013 your year.
Find your purpose and show the world, and yourself, what you’re capable of.
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.