J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Now Available: Trends for 2014 at Your Fingertips


    It’s here.  I’ve published my Trends for 2014:

    Trends for 2014: The Year of Value Realization

    It’s a deep dive.

    Some things will look familiar.  Some things will look new.   Some things might surprise you.

    There are a lot of interesting patterns at play.   For example, baby boomers are shaping innovation.  Developing countries are turning around the flow of innovation.  The world is going social, businesses are going cloud, everything is getting mobile, people and machines are getting better together, and analytics for everything is bringing new levels of insight, and opening new possibilities.

    I plucked out a couple of the trends to share here that you might find interesting:

    Dream Teams the Virtual Way.  Has there ever been a better time to assemble a team of super heroes to change the world?   Build your dream team, ship ideas, and change the world. 99 Designs.com puts 100,000+ designers are at your fingertips.  Behance.net is a leading online platform to showcase and discover creative work and hire top talent.  Elance.com gives you access over 2 million skilled freelancers from around the world.  Fiverr.com helps you hire people around the world to perform tasks and services, referred to as “gigs” beginning at a cost of $5 per job performedFreelancer.com provides instant access to the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace. oDesk.com connects you to millions of quality freelancers where you can outsourcing your needs.

    Infrastructure as code.  “Continuous delivery and DevOps have elevated our thinking about infrastructure. The implications of thinking about infrastructure as code and the need for new tools are still evolving.”    See Thoughtworks Technology Radar, May 2013

    We are the Borg, device implants, and electronically enhanced you. It’s not just wearable computing.  Devices are ingestible and implantable, too  Implants, smart pills and electronic tattoos will change the medical field, among other arenas.   Smart pills and smart “stick on” tattoos can send relay vital signs of a patient to doctors.  Doctors gather detailed data on “neural signatures” of illnesses through implants.

    There’s plenty more at Trends for 2014: The Year of Value Realization.

    What I also did was a pretty thorough roundup of key trends for 2014 from a variety of sources.

    And, I do mean a variety.

    If there is one post you read from me this year, this is the post.

    It can help you reimagine you and your world, and inspire you with new ways to exploit the future and the kaleidoscope of trends that are shaping the fabric of our emerging reality.

    It puts the future in your hands.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Day 7 of 7 Days of Agile Results–Saturday (Have Fun)


    imageYour Outcome: Design a great weekend.

    Welcome to Day 7 of 7 Days of Agile Results.  Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

    Let’s recap what we’ve done so far:

    Today, it’s all about fun.

    Use Agile Results to Make the Most of Your Weekend

    What do you want out of this weekend?

    You can use The Rule of 3 whenever you need it.    Simply identify 3 Wins or 3 Outcomes that you want to achieve.

    So, what are 3 Wins that I want out of this weekend?

    1. Catch up on sleep.
    2. Catch up on movies.
    3. Learn something deep.

    I caught up on sleep, and I went to see Long Survivor.   It was intense.   Hopefully, I’ll catch up on a few more movies tomorrow.

    I also plan to go through a home study course that I’ve had for a while.  Now’s the time.

    3 Takeaways from 7 Days of Agile Results

    Hopefully, stepping through each day had helped you get started with Agile Results.

    1. If you fall off the horse, you can start Agile Results anytime, anywhere, simply by asking yourself:

    “What are 3 outcomes that I want for today?”

    … and write your answers down on a piece of paper or sticky note (my tool of choice.)

    That’s it, you’re doing Agile Results.

    2. If you remember two things, remember to use Three Wins or The Rule of 3:

    Three Wins for the Day, Three Wins for the Week, Three Wins for the Month, Three Wins for the Year

    3. If you remember three things, then remember the Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection pattern:

    1. Monday Vision: On Mondays, identify your 3 outcomes or 3 Wins for the week.
    2. Daily Outcomes:  Each day, identify 3 Wins or 3 outcomes for your day.
    3. Friday Reflection:  Each Friday, identify 3 things going well and 3 things to improve.

    If you really embrace and practice this simple system, you’ll be turning intentional action into magnificent results.  You’ll also very quickly multiple your results, simply by getting better at focusing, and concentrating your effort.  And, Friday Reflection will help you learn faster and deeper about your own ability to execute, and will help you build your execution excellence muscle.

    Write Your Story Forward and Help 3 Others Unleash Their Potential

    Don’t get discouraged if you struggle with some things.  Remember that you get to practice every day.  Enjoy it and challenge yourself.  Remember that the value is really in the change, and that our challenges produce some of our best changes.  Our challenges and changes are also the breeding ground of some of our best stories in our lives. 

    It’s in this way that we are the authors of our lives and we continuously write our stories forward.

    Also remember that sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach others.

    If you teach 3 friends (family, or colleagues) how to get started with Agile Results, you’ll be helping more people find a way to flourish and realize their potential and to unleash the productive artist we all have inside.

    Best wishes on your journey ahead.

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    Day 6 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Friday (Friday Reflection)


    imageYour Outcome: Identify 3 things going well and 3 things to improve based on you results for this week.

    Welcome to Day 6 of 7 Days of Agile Results.  Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

    Let’s recap what we’ve done so far:

    Use Friday Reflection as a way to invest in yourself, reinvent yourself, and renew yourself.   If you do this well, this is the secret of continuous improvement.  Each week, what you learn from Friday Reflection can help you tune and improve your results so you get better and better.

    One of the most common patterns is to simply lose sight of what we set out to achieve for his week.  That's why thinking of 3 Wins for the Week is so powerful.  It gives us a target.  We check ourselves during the week, and adjust our course.  Then Friday is where we really peer into our personal process and find ways to improve it.

    3 Things Going Well and 3 Things to Improve

    To do Friday reflection, simply give yourself 10 or 20 minutes on Friday mornings to ask yourself two things:

    1. What are three things going well?
    2. What are three things to improve?

    The goal is to carry the good forward and build better habits.

    Before you answer the questions above, really reflect on your week.  Did you do what you set out to do?  If not, did you trade up for the right things?  Did you get randomized? Did you bite off more than you can chew?

    See what starts to happen?  You start to notice your own patterns.  This awareness becomes your advantage, when you use it to change what's not working, and do more of what is working  It's a way to improve your personal habits and streamline your results.

    This is a powerful way to learn your own capacity and to gradually improve your “ability to execute.”

    Example Patterns

    Here are a few common patterns and what to do about them:

    1. You completed none of what you set out to do for the week.   Pay a lot of attention to this.   What’s important is that you know “WHY” you didn’t complete what you set out to do.  If you traded up for higher value impact, congratulations.   If, you simply got randomized, and distracted, then notice how much better today would feel if you had stayed focused on your 3 outcomes.  Also, make it a point to identify how you choose better outcomes for the week.   You want to really start to learn what sorts of things are high value results for you.
    2. You completed some of what you set out to do.  Congratulations.   At least that’s some progress you can be proud of.   Use your results as feedback.   Did you complete your best opportunities?   Or did you simply go for low-hanging fruit?   Did you try to accomplish more than was reasonable within this time frame?   Use your answers here to gain tremendous insight into your own bottlenecks and ability to execute.   If you are simply biting off too much, then try to improve your ability to estimate what you can achieve within a week.   You’ll get better at this each time.  You’ll start to be able to size up your work week simply by eye-balling it.   You’ll develop an intuitive ability to guestimate your efforts, which will help you right size your wins, and focus on the highest impact results.   This, in turn, will help you build momentum so that you can create a snowball of progressive impact.
    3. You completed what you set out to do, but it doesn’t feel like impact.    This is a good learning, as well as a good reminder.   First, make sure you aren’t throwing your results away.   Check to see if you are giving yourself enough credit for achieving your results.   Practice an attitude of gratitude.   Next, see if you can put your finger on “WHY” it doesn’t feel like impact.   Did you simply have  lack of clarity around what would be significant for this week?   Did you simply set your bar too low?   The best insight here is to gain increasing clarity on what types of outcomes really constitute high value results.

    Enjoy the Journey

    Most important, relax and truly embrace Friday Reflection as one of the best ways that you can improve your personal performance, in a simple and almost automatic way.   Just by asking these simple questions, you start to gain awareness and you start to gain more clarity on what works best for you, and what your true execution abilities are.

    What’s even better is that you’ll naturally start to improve here simply by paying attention to these key questions.   They’ll help you see what you did not see before.  And, if you make this Friday Reflection a simple way to check in with yourself each week, you’ll find yourself paying more attention throughout the week.  And, you’ll start to make little adjustments here and there that start to help you focus and prioritize on higher value outcomes and activities

    You will gradually find that you are achieving better and better results, with less effort and more clarity.

    You will unleash the productive artist that’s already within you, as well as tap your most inspiring abilities, skills, and strengths.

    This is how you will fan your flames and set your productivity on fire … the quiet way … the Agile way.

    Welcome to your private victories that last a life time.

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    Day 5 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Thursday (Daily Outcomes)


    imageYour Outcome: Know your 3 Wins to target today so that you have a simple way to focus and prioritize your effort throughout your day.

    Welcome to Day 5 of 7 Days of Agile Results.  Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

    Let’s recap what we’ve done so far:

    Hopefully, at this point, it’s getting easier for you to identify your 3 outcomes for the day.

    If not, fear not. 

    You will get better, as long as you make it a conscious effort to really figure out what 3 outcomes you want for today.

    Picture Your Day, the Agile Way

    Hopefully, you’re also benefiting from scanning your calendar to get a good mental picture of your day.  And by doing a quick list of your main tasks for the day, this should also help you practice prioritizing before just diving in.  

    You’re teaching yourself to focus on higher value activities.

    You can actually use this simple picture of your day to help envision your results and inspire you. 

    All you have to do is imagine a simple future scene or two for your morning, a simple future scene or two for your afternoon, and a simple future scene or two for your night. 

    And, if you don’t like what you imagine, then re-imagine it, and play out new possibilities.

    A Busy Day, But There’s Always a Chance for Bursts of Brilliance

    For today, I have an exceptionally busy calendar, but I notice that I have a few time slices where I can really focus and nail a few things.

    My 3 planned outcomes for today are:

    1. I have the Devices and Services Story slides 80% complete (and with the right “fingerprints” on them) so that I can shop it around.
    2. I have a test scenario to walk the Modern App Transformation Story so that I can validate our approach before sinking a bunch of time.
    3. I have a simple plan for landing and scaling the Devices and Services readiness material across the organization so I can start to put the right things in the right places.

    If I accomplish those three things, I’ll really be in great shape.   I have a lot of “below the line” things to do today, and a schedule that will randomize me quite a bit, but if I play my cards right, I should be able to pull off my 3 Wins above.

    Play Around with How You State Your Outcomes or Wins

    One thing I’ll point out, and which I hope you noticed, is that each day, I’m playing around with how I represent the 3 Wins (or 3 Outcomes, or 3 Results.)   I want you to play around to so that you find what works for you.   I’m simply showing you a few different variations so that you can see that it’s not about doing it this way or that way that’s important.  

    What’s important is that you have clarity on the 3 things you want out of today and for the week.   I can’t emphasize how important that is as a tool to help you focus and prioritize.

    Appreciate Your Results

    But what it also helps you do is to appreciate what you accomplish.  It gives you a simple way to play back your results, and acknowledge your achievements.  

    It sounds so simple, and it is, but when you appreciate your results, you breathe new life into all your efforts, and you build momentum like you wouldn’t believe.

    Don’t throw that away.  

    Your results are actually your own reward.  

    Cherish your achievements, and enjoy the journey as you go.

    Have a great day, the agile way.

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    Day 4 of 7 Days of Agile Results - Wednesday (Daily Outcomes)


    Your Outcome: Celebrate your personal victories for the week so far and set yourself up for success for today, and for the rest of the week.

    Happy Hump Day!

    Today is a great day to checkpoint your progress against your 3 outcomes for the week, and re-adjust if necessary.

    But first, let's recap where we are so far:

    What we’re doing to do now is check how we’re doing against the week.  This may impact what we choose to focus on today.

    For example, here is the list my 3 Wins for this week that I want to accomplish:

    1. Dry run of the Devices and Services training deck.
    2. Actionable feedback and next steps based on a walkthrough of all the Enterprise Identity assets.
    3. A test case to use for the Modern App Transformation story to test initial thinking.

    I’ve already achieved the first two outcomes.  As far as #3, it’s starting to feel more like a stretch goal.   I also underestimated how much further I need to take #1, as additional requirements start to come in.  But the more important thing I note is that my backlog of administrative activities has really ballooned out of control to the point where I need to put a solid dent in it today.

    The Agile part here is about always learning, adapting, and improving based on what you learn, and what you want to achieve within the time you and energy you have available.

    Next, I take a look at my calendar, and I jot down a few of the key items that stand out.  I have a presentation first thing in the morning, followed by a few key meetings, and a few sprinkled in the afternoon.   I notice that I have a few open blocks of time where I can focus on some of my heavy lifting.

    With that in mind, let me list out some of the key activities that I have for today:

    - Present my summary and highlights of the Intellectual Property development effort for the past 1/2 year, and the plan for the next six months
    - Review the budget plan and projected spend
    - Create additional slides for the Devices and Services story
    - Help one of my mentees with their career planning and next immediate moves
    - Meet with leads from each of the partner teams to validate our initial plan
    - Set up a series of meetings for next week with colleagues in town from around the world
    - Get detailed feedback from the first wave of results from the off-shore development team
    - Create a plan for scaling the delivery and self-paced training across the organization
    - Hunt down a few colleagues that I need help on a few technical details and drill-downs

    I have a lot to do, but it’s not about quantity.  It’s about impact.  And, I need a simple set of “tests for success for today.”

    Here’s what I choose as my 3 Wins for today to help me stay on track:

    1. The team feels good about the results of the Intellectual Property development efforts so far and believes in the vision
    2. The Devices + Services story includes all the latest feedback (even if just in raw form.)
    3. My administrative backlog is chopped down to size.

    My presentation is already scheduled, so all I’m going to do is show up with a simple message that I want people to take away.   I have a few stories to share, and if people want details, I have more than enough, so I’m set there.

    What I need to do to pull off my other two wins is dedicate a few of my open time blocks in the afternoon to really focus on them.  To nail my administrative backlog, I’m going to do as many things in a batch as possible, while I have my “administrative hat” on.

    To nail the Devices + Services story and integrate the feedback, I’ll need to use some of the time slices earlier in my day to do some initial preparation.      I’ll also need to set expectations with my team that I’ll be heads down while I work through it.

    If I achieve these 3 Wins, I’ll have significant progress, and I’ll be on track for the most important things.  I still have a lot of heavy lifting, but at least I have clarity of what my most important outcomes are.

    With this in mind, I try to get a clear and simple picture of my day.   My morning will be about presenting and attending meetings.  I’ll use lunch as a chance to play out some ideas on the Devices + Services story.  Then, my afternoon will be about turning ideas into slides, and nailing my administrative backlog. 

    I can see it min mind.  And, as the saying goes, “What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve.”  But mostly I like the peace of mind that comes from having clarity on my priorities and having a simple picture of my day that I can use a baseline.

    Will my day get messy?  You bet.  In fact, I expect the unexpected.  But will I be able to roll with the punches? Yes, a lot better now that I have a map of my day, and I know that’s truly important.  Now, I can deliberately trade up for new opportunities, or respond to challenges more effectively as they come my way.

    Today is a big hump in the week.  

    But, through some quick and simple planning and map, I’m already on top of it.

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    Day 1 of 7 Days of Agile Results - Sunday (Getting Started)

    Day 2 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Monday (Monday Vision)

    Day 3 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Tuesday (Daily Outcomes)

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    Day 3 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Tuesday (Daily Outcomes)


    imageYour Outcome:  Learn how to use Daily Outcomes to identify 3 outcomes or 3 Wins for today.  By identifying your best 3 Wins for the day, you’ll be able to focus and prioritize throughout the day to achieve better results.

    Welcome to Day 3 of 7 Days of Agile Results.  Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

    Just to do a quick recap, here’s what we’ve done so far:

    Now, for today, let’s get started.

    It’s a fresh start.  This is your chance to choose the best things to focus on that will help you make the most impact today.

    Here’s a simple process you can use to get started:

    1. Scan your calendar so you can get a good picture of the key events in your day.  You want to get a good sense of the priorities.
    2. Write down a simple list of the key tasks you have on your plate for today.
    3. Now, at the top of your list, identify 3 outcomes that would make this a great day.   Think of these as your 3 Wins for today, to help you focus and prioritize throughout your day.

    For example, here are my 3 outcomes that I want for today:

    1. People in the meeting buy into the Scenarios + Architecture + Value approach
    2. Review meeting of the Devices + Services story leads to closure of open issues
    3. Sync up leads to a breakthrough I can apply to our production process

    Those then act as my “tests for success” for the day.  Do I have a lot of tasks on my plate for the day?  You bet.

    Do I have a lot of meetings to attend?  Yep.

    Will I be trying to use some of the little time slices in my day to try and complete many of my tasks?  Of course.

    Will I be dealing with interruptions throughout the day, as well?  Yes, to that, too.

    I will be dealing with chaos while riding the dragon.  And throughout the day, I’ll be driving to my 3 outcomes.

    They are my North Star, while I deal with whatever comes my way throughout the day.

    May your 3 Wins guide you and provide you with clarity, conviction, and calmness among the chaos – TODAY.

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    Day 1 of 7 Days of Agile Results - Sunday (Getting Started)

    Day 2 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Monday (Monday Vision)

    10 Big Ideas from Getting Results the Agile Way

    Agile Results on a Page

    The Values of  Agile Results

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Day 2 of 7 Days of Agile Results - Monday (Monday Vision)


    imageYour Outcome:  Learn how to use Monday Vision to identify 3 outcomes or 3 Wins for the week.  By identifying your best 3 Wins for the week, you’ll be able to focus and prioritize throughout the week to achieve better results.

    Welcome to Day 2 of 7 Days of Agile Results.  Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

    Today’s focus is on identifying your 3 outcomes for the week.

    Have you ever had a week fly by and when Friday hits you’re asking yourself, “Where did the week go?” 

    Not any more. 

    With Monday Vision, you take a moment to jump ahead to the end of the week, and you ask yourself, “If this were Friday, what are three outcomes, wins, or results that I would want under my belt?” 

    Monday is your chance to create a compelling vision for your week. 

    It’s flexible, but I’m going to walk you through a specific approach, so that you know how to start.  When you first start, it might take you a little longer, but with practice, it really is just a 10 minute exercise, if that.

    Save More Time and Effort While Creating More Value This Week

    You’re going to spend a week of your time.   Slow down to speed up.  Yeah, it really works.  This is a quick and simple way to get more value out of the time you already spend, and you can save a lot of time each day and each week by focusing on the key things that matter the most.  If you can shave off things that matter less, to focus on things that matter more, you win the game

    There will always be more to do than you can effectively do, so this is a way to set a healthy bar for results.

    The summary of what you’re going to do today is to write out a quick list of the things on your plate for this week, and then identify the 3 most important outcomes for the week.   Next, you’ll list out your tasks for today, and then identify your 3 most important outcomes for today.

    Let’s go to it  …

    Step 1 – Write Down Your List of Important Things for This week

    Write down a quick list of things you want to accomplish this week.   If you need to, scan your calendar for the week to remind yourself of some of the big activities you have, key meetings, and any significant events.

    Here is a simple example of a dump of actions and things going on for the week:

    Example List of Tasks for the Week

    - Create a draft of the slides for the Devices and Services story.
    - Map out the big rocks for work for Q3 and Q4.
    - Review the scenarios, architecture, and value story for Enterprise Identity story.
    - Create a simple plan for integrating sales collateral with delivery assets.
    - Schedule a working session to figure out the Modern App Transformation approach.
    - Meet with Steve to collaborate on how to integrate our methods, models, and approach for helping Enterprise customers with Devices and Services.
    - Meet with field leads to get detailed feedback on the information product model and any adoption blockers or issues.
    - Team meeting with field to walkthrough new releases and latest evolution of the framework.

    There’s more I could add, but for now, let’s use above as a sample working set.  And, obviously there are a bunch of sub-activities and tasks to actually complete each item above.

    The idea is to quickly generate a simple list of things you'll be working on this week.   By having this list at your fingertips, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this week is about, and where you need to spend most of your time and energy.

    Step 2 – Write Down 3 Wins that You Want to Accomplish for This Week

    Now, at the top of your list, write down 3 things that you really want to accomplish for this week.   These will be the goals that remind you what’s important throughout the week.

    Here is an example of the same list, but now I’ve written down my 3 most important goals and achievements at the top:

    Example List of Tasks for the Week with 3 Wins at the Top

    1. Devices + Services slides are ready to go.
    2. The Enterprise Identity story is ready to ship.
    3. FY15 plans are in place (straw man)

    - Create a draft of the slides for the Devices and Services story.
    - Map out the big rocks for work for Q3 and Q4.
    - Review the scenarios, architecture, and value story for Enterprise Identity story.
    - Create a simple plan for integrating sales collateral with delivery assets.
    - Schedule a working session to figure out the Modern App Transformation approach.
    - Meet with Steve to collaborate on how to integrate our methods, models, and approach for helping Enterprise customers with Devices and Services.
    - Meet with field leads to get detailed feedback on the information product model and any adoption blockers or issues.

    I still have a long list of things to do (it’s longer than I’m showing here), but I have listed my 3 most important outcomes at the top.  Those are my tests for success.  If I can accomplish those, then I should feel good about my progress and achievements.   The assumption here is that I did a good job of picking the 3 outcomes that deliver the most value, and that I have the ability to execute

    If I didn’t, I will learn and adapt during the week, and especially when I get to Friday Reflection this Friday.

    Chances are you have more to do than you have time to do, so this is really an exercise in prioritization.  But it’s also an exercise in simplification.  You could easily generate a laundry list of everything on your plate, but that’s not the idea.  The goal is to get clear on 3 things that you can achieve this week, that would make your best impact and help you focus and prioritize throughout the week.

    It’s about getting pragmatic about what you can actually achieve this week, and what actually matters.   There’s no point in focusing on a bunch of things you won’t do.

    Step 3 – Write Down 3 Wins that you Want to Accomplish Today

    Since this is Monday, not only do I want to identify my 3 Wins for the week, I also want to identify my 3 Wins or 3 Outcomes for today.   They may or may not directly support my 3 Wins for the week, but they at least help me achieve what I need to accomplish today.

    Keep in mind, that since I now know my 3 most important outcomes for the week, I can choose better outcomes today to support my week.  Awareness actually helps us avoid letting the week fly by and then wondering where it went and why we didn’t achieve the things that matter.

    Similar to the week, I’ll list out my activities for today, but it’s a much faster process, since I can glance at my calendar for the day, and I already have several things that are top of mind for today.   But, the key step here is to identify my 3 Wins for today.

    For example, for today, my 3 Wins that I want to accomplish are:

    Example List of 3 Outcomes for Today

    1. Dry run of the Devices and Services training deck.
    2. Actionable feedback and next steps based on a walkthrough of all the Enterprise Identity assets.
    3. A test case to use for the Modern App Transformation story to test initial thinking.

    Each of those outcomes is a valuable results and paves the way for other work that will help me have a high-impact week.

    Do I have many, many other things to also accomplish?  You bet.   But if I achieve those 3 goals, then I will have accomplished my most important results.

    It’s also worth pointing out that each of those goals has a lot of steps and sub-steps and activities within them.  The point is that I’m not tracking tasks.  I’m focusing on outcomes. and I let my brain do what it does best, which is figure out the right tasks as I go, as I’m working towards each outcome.   But the most important things to keep front and center, are the outcomes to work towards.   Otherwise, it’s easy to get lost among a sea of activities, and a jungle of tasks, and lose sight of the priorities and outcomes that matter.

    Side note: I do keep a list of the tasks I’m working on, but I focus on the outcomes.  A simple thing to keep in mind is write your To Do list for today, and then add your 3 Wins or 3 Outcomes to the top.


    So, to recap, here’s what we did:

    1. We listed out our work for the week, and then wrote down our 3 outcomes that we want to achieve for the week.  This is Monday Vision.
    2. We listed out our work for the day, and then wrote down our 3 outcomes for today.  This is Daily Wins.
    3. We produced a simple list of 3 Wins for this week and 3 Wins for today that we will try to achieve.  This helps us start Monday off with a clear vision of impact for the week, and for today, in a very simple way.

    One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not that you are limiting yourself to “3 things.”  It’s achieving 3 Wins.  You are focusing on achieving 3 significant outcomes that matter each day, and each week.   Think of it as a way of turning a chaos of activity into simple goals that are easy to remember and pull everything together into something that matters.


    1. Review your 3 Wins for this week.   Are they simple and sticky to say out loud?  Do they really represent value?  If this week were over, are those really the 3 things that you would regret if you didn’t accomplish them?
    2. Review your 3 Wins for today.  If you accomplished those by the end of today, would you feel like you had a successful day?  If not, then go back to the drawing board and identify 3 outcomes that you can both realistically achieve and that you will feel good about.

    It’s important to remind yourself that you can’t do everything, and that you especially can’t do everything all at once.  So, the best you can do is spend the right time, on the right things, with the right energy, the right way.   If you keep this little formula in mind, and apply it when you choose your 3 outcomes to focus on for today, you will be ahead of the game.

    In fact, that’s also a great way to help you choose your 3 outcomes for today.  Ask yourself, “What are the 3 best outcomes I can produce today with the time and energy I have available?”

    Congrats for completing day 2 of 7 Days of Agile Results.

    And note, if you’ve successfully identified 3 compelling Wins for today and 3 compelling Wins for the week, you are ahead of 99% of the population who has not and will not take the time to actually do this.    You’ve made your day more meaningful, your week more meaningful, and you’ve created a way to better prioritize and focus throughout the week.

    You have set a powerful stage for your success throughout the week.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Day 1 of 7 Days of Agile Results - Sunday (Getting Started)


    imageYour Outcome:  Learn how to get started quickly with Agile Results, even if you've never read the book.

    Welcome to day 1 of 7 Days of Agile Results.  By following along each day, you can learn how to use Agile Results as a powerful system to easily triple your productivity.

    Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

    You don't have to invest a lot of time, to get a lot of benefits.  You don't even need any ramp up time.  You can just get started now and implement other concepts from the book as time goes by, and when you are ready for those concepts.

    The main idea is to get benefits now vs. later.

    Here are some of the big benefits you'll gain from using Agile Results as your productivity system:

    1. You'll automatically master time management, motivation, and personal productivity by using proven practices.
    2. You'll improve and amplify your impact by focusing on your top 3 Wins for the week.
    3. You'll avoid getting overloaded and overwhelmed by your day by using 3 Wins each day to focus and prioritize your time, energy, and attention.
    4. You'll reduce your stress and improve your peace of mind by generating a vision for your week and for each day.
    5. You'll improve your satisfaction each day by knowing that you actually got the important things done.
    6. You'll quickly learn how to improve your productivity through continuous learning, feedback, and changing your approach.
    7. You'll learn how to embrace change and get better results in any situation.

    With that in mind, let's take a quick look at how Agile Results works:

    1. On Mondays, write down 3 outcomes or "Wins" that you want for the week. (This is called Monday Vision.)
    2. Each day, write down 3 outcomes or "Wins" that you want for each day. (This is called Daily Outcomes.)
    3. On Fridays, ask yourself, "What are 3 things going well?," and, "What are 3 things to improve?", and write your answers down. (This is called Friday Reflection.)

    This is the Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection pattern in Agile Results.  It’s a simple pattern for weekly results.  By focusing on 3 Wins each week, and each day, you apply concentrated effort to your most important results.  Focus is your force multiplier.

    It might sound incredibly simple, but that's the idea.   Agile Results really is a simple system for meaningful results

    Simple, but powerful. 

    When you identify 3 outcomes or "Wins", what you are doing is:

    1. Prioritizing among your multiple, competing priorities.
    2. Focusing on your highest value results.
    3. Creating a way to more consistently produce better and better results.

    What you are actually doing is learning how to identify and produce continuous value … the agile way.

    And, as you will learn, value is the ultimate short-cut.


    1. Read a few case studies and testimonials to understand some of the results that people achieve using Agile Results.
    2. Add a reminder to your calendar to test-drive Agile Results each day for this week.
  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Extreme Goal Setting for 2014


    When’s the last time you went for your personal Epic Win?   If it’s been a while, no worries.  Let’s go big this year.

    I’ll give you the tools.

    I realize time and again, that Bruce Lee was so right when he said, “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”  Similarly, William B. Sprague told us, “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.” 

    And, Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”   Similarly, Alan Kay said, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

    Well then?  Game on!

    By the way, if you’re not feeling very inspired, check out either my 37 Inspirational Quotes That Will Change Your Life, Motivational Quotes, or my Inspirational Quotes.  They are intense, and I bet you can find your favorite three.

    As I’ve been diving deep into goal setting and goal planning, I’ve put together a set of deep dive posts that will give you a very in-depth look at how to set and achieve any goal you want.   Here is my roundup so far:

    Brian Tracy on 12 Steps to Set and Achieve Any Goal

    Brian Tracy on the Best Times for Writing and Reviewing Your Goals

    Commit to Your Best Year Ever

    Goal Setting vs. Goal Planning

    How To Find Your Major Definite Purpose

    How To Use 3 Wins for the Year to Have Your Best Year Ever

    The Power of Annual Reviews for Achieving Your Goals and Realizing Your Potential

    What Do You Want to Spend More Time Doing?

    Zig Ziglar on Setting Goals

    Hopefully, my posts on goal setting and goal planning save you many hours (if not days, weeks, etc.) of time, effort, and frustration on trying to figure out how to really set and achieve your goals.   If you only read one post, at least read Goal Setting vs. Goal Planning because this will put you well ahead of the majority of people who regularly don’t achieve their goals.

    In terms of actions, if there is one thing to decide, make it Commit to Your Best Year Ever.

    Enjoy and best wishes for your greatest year ever and a powerful 2014.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Most Effective CIOs in 2014


    I was reading The Fruits of Innovation: Top 10 IT Trends in 2014, by Mark Harris.

    Harris had this to say about the evolving role of the CIO:

    “In the end, these leaders are now tasked to accurately manage, predict, execute and justify. Hence, the CIO’s role will evolve. Previously, CIOs were mostly technologists that were measured almost exclusively by availability and uptime. The CIO’s job was all about crafting a level of IT services that the company could count on, and the budgeting process needed to do so was a mostly a formality.”

    Harris had this to say about the best qualities in a CIO:

    “The most effective CIOs in 2014 will be business managers that understand the wealth of technology options now available, the costs associated with each as well as the business value of each of the various services they are chartered to deliver. He or she will map out a plan that delivers just the right amount service within their agreed business plan. Email, for instance, may have an entirely different value to a company than their online store, so the means to deliver these diverse services will need to be different. It is the 2014 CIO’s job to empower their organizations to deliver just the right services at just the right cost.”

    That matches what I’ve been seeing.

    CIOs need business acumen and the ability to connect IT to business impact.

    Another way to think of it is, the CIO needs to help accelerate and realize business value from IT investments.

    Value Realization is hot.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How To Have Your Best Year Ever


    There’s a little trick I learned about how to have your best year ever:

    Commit to Your Best Year Ever

    That’s it.

    And, it actually works.

    When you decide to have your best year ever, and you make it a mission, you find a way to make it happen.

    You embrace the challenges and the changes that come you way. 

    You make better choices throughout the year, in a way that moves you towards your best year ever.

    A while back, our team, did exactly that.   We decided we wanted to make the coming year our best year ever.  We wanted a year we could look back on, and know that we gave it our best shot.  We wanted a year that mattered.  And we were willing to work for it.

    And, it worked like a champ.

    In fast, most of us go our best reviews at Microsoft.  Ever.

    It’s not like it’s magic.  It works because it sets the stage.  It sets the stage for great expectations.  And, when you expect more, from yourself, or from the world, you start to look for and leverage more opportunities to make that come true.

    It also helps you role with the punches.   You find ways to turnaround negative situations into more positive ones.  You find ways to take setbacks as learning opportunities to experience your greatest growth.  You look for ways to turn ordinary events into extraordinary adventures.

    And when you get knocked down.  You try again.  Because you’re on a mission.

    When you make it a mission to have your best year ever, you stretch yourself a little more.  You try new things.  You take old things to new heights.

    But there’s a very important distinction here.   You have to own the decision. 

    It has to be your choice.   YOU have to choose it so that you internalize it, and actually believe it, so that you actually act on it.

    Otherwise, it’s just a neat idea, but you won’t live it.

    And if you don’t live it, it won’t happen.

    But, as soon as you decide that no matter what, this will be YOUR best year ever, you unleash your most resourceful self.

    If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to go for the epic win, then watch this TED talk and my notes:

    Go For the Epic Win

    Best wishes for your best year.


  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Declaration of Interdependence


    You might already know the Agile Manifesto:

    • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
    • Working software over comprehensive documentation
    • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
    • Responding to change over following a plan

    But do you know the Declaration of Interdependence:

    • We increase return on investment by making continuous flow of value our focus.
    • We deliver reliable results by engaging customers in frequent interactions and shared ownership.
    • We expect uncertainty and manage for it through iterations, anticipation, and adaptation.
    • We unleash creativity and innovation by recognizing that individuals are the ultimate source of value, and creating an environment where they can make a difference.
    • We boost performance through group accountability for results and shared responsibility for team effectiveness.
    • We improve effectiveness and reliability through situationally specific strategies, processes and practices.

    While the Agile Manifesto is geared toward Agile practitioners, the Declaration of Interdependence is geared towards Agile project leaders.

    When you know the values that shape things, it helps you better understand why things are the way they are. 

    Notice how you can read the Agile Manifesto as, “we value this more than that” and you can read the Declaration of Interdependence as “this benefit we achieve through this.”  Those are actually powerful and repeatable language patterns.  I’ve found myself drawing from those patterns over the years, whenever I was trying to articulate operating principles (which is a good name for principles that guide how you operate.)

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Power of Annual Reviews for Personal Development


    Talk about taking some things for granted.  Especially when it’s a love-hate relationship.  I’m talking about Annual Reviews. 

    I didn’t realize how valuable they can be when you own the process and you line them up with your bigger goal setting for life.  I’ve done them for so long, in this way, that I forgot how much they are a part of my process for carving out a high-impact year.

    I know I might do things a big differently in terms of how I do my review, so I highlighted key things in my post:

    The Power of Annual Reviews for Achieving Your Goals and Realizing Your Potential

    Note that if you hate the term Annual Review because it conjures up a bunch of bad memories, then consider calling it your Annual Retrospective.  If you’re a Scrum fan, you’ll appreciate the twist.

    Here’s the big idea:

    If you “own” your Annual Review, you can use taking a look back to take a leap forward.

    What I mean is that if you are pro-active in your approach, and if you really use feedback as a gift, you can gain tremendous insights into your personal growth and capabilities.

    Here’s a summary of what I do in terms of my overall review process:

    1. Take a Look Back.  In December, I take a look back.   For example, this would be my 2013 Year in Review.   What did I achieve?  What went well? What didn’t go well?  How did I do against my 3-5 key goals that really mattered.   I use The Rule of 3, so really, I care about 3 significant changes that I can tell a story around for the year (The value of a story is the value of the change, and the value of the change is the value of the challenge.)
    2. Take a Look Forward.  Also in December, I take a look ahead.  What are my 3-5 big goals that I want to achieve for this year?  I really focus on 3 wins for each year.  The key is to hone in on the changes that matter.  If it’s not a change, then it’s business as usual, and doesn’t really need my attention because it’s already a habit and I’m already doing it.
    3. Align Work + Life.  When the Microsoft mid-year process starts, I figure out what I want to achieve in terms of themes and goals for the year at work.  I’ve already got my bigger picture in mind.   Now it’s just a matter of ensuring alignment between work and life.  There’s always a way to create better alignment and better leverage, and that’s how we empower ourselves to flourish in work and life.

    It’s not an easy process.  But that’s just it.  That’s what makes it worth it.  It’s a tough look at the hard stuff that matters.  The parts of the process that make it  a challenge are the opportunities for growth.   Looking back, I can see how much easier it is for me to really plan out a year of high-impact where I live my values and play to my strengths.  I can also see early warning signs and anticipate downstream challenges.  I know when I first started, it was daunting to figure out what a year might look like.  Now, it’s almost too easy.

    This gives me a great chance up front to play out a lot of “What If?” scenarios.  This also gives me a great chance right up front to ask the question, if this is how the year will play out, is that the ride I want to be on?  The ability to plan out our future capability vision, design a better future, and change our course is part of owning our destiny.

    In my experience, a solid plan at the right level, gives you more flexibility and helps you make smarter choices, before you become a frog in the boiling pot.

    If you haven’t taken the chance to really own and drive your Annual Review, then consider doing an Annual Retrospective, and use the process to help you leap frog ahead.

    Make this YOUR year.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Countdown Deal for Getting Results the Agile Way on Kindle


    image“In life you need either inspiration or desperation.” – Tony Robbins

    Is 2014 going to be YOUR year?

    Let’s make it so.

    My best-selling book on time management and productivity is on sale for a limited time offer, through a Countdown Deal:

    Getting Results the Agile Way on Kindle

    What is Getting Results the Agile Way all about?  It’s a simple system for meaningful results in work and life.   It’s the best synthesis of what I know for mastering time management, motivation, and personal productivity. (And, it’s designed to be “better together” – use it with your favorite existing tools of choice, whether that’s Franklin-Covey, the Pomodoro Technique, Getting Things Done, etc.)

    The way this Countdown Deal works is that the price goes from lower to higher during the course of 7 days.

    As I currently understand it, here’s the price breakdown:

    • Dec 26, 27th – .99 Cents
    • Dec 28, 29th – $2.99
    • Dec 30, 31st, and Jan 1st – $4.99

    In other words, the sooner you get it, the cheaper it is.

    Here are the key benefits of the book:

    • Triple your productivity.  (When you combine a strengths based approach + Power Hours, you’ll ignite your productivity.)
    • Set yourself up for success on a daily basis
    • Embrace change and get better results in any situation
    • Focus and direct your attention with skill
    • Use your strengths to create a powerful edge for getting results
    • How to change a habit and make it stick
    • Achieve better work-life balance with a system that works
    • Spend more time doing the things you love

    Here’s what others are saying about the book:

    "Agile Results delivers know-what, know-why and know-how for anyone who understands the value of momentum in making your moments count."– Dr. Rick Kirschner, bestselling author

    "JD’s ability to understand and cut to the real issues and then apply techniques that have proven to be successful in other situations is legendary at Microsoft. Over the years I have learnt that he will not recommend something or someone unless he believe it the entire value chain, making the advice you get even more potent. It’s a little like a whirlwind and you have to be prepared for a ride but if you want results and you want them fast, you talk to JD."– Mark Curphey, CEO & Founder, SourceClear

    JD is the go-to-guy for getting results, and Agile Results demonstrates his distinct purpose – he shows how anyone can do anything, better. This book has simple, effective, powerful tools and ideas that are easy enough for everyone to apply in their work and lives, so that they get the results they’d like, even the impossible and the unexpected.”– Janine de Nysschen, Changemaker and Purpose Strategist, Whytelligence

    Getting results and being YOUR best is a personal thing, which is why I designed it as a personal results system.

    If you already are using Agile Results, tell me a story.   Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly.   I always want to know what’s working or not working for you.  Each week, I receive emails from people around the world with their stories of personal victories.  For some, it’s fast, as if it was the missing link they needed to help them connect the dots.  For others, it’s more like a slow crescendo.  And, for others, it’s more like a game of slow and steady that wins the race.

    But what everybody seems to have in common is that they feel like they got back on path and are instantly getting better at spending the right time, on the right things, the right way, with the right energy.  

    This is where breakthroughs happen.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    25 Holiday Classic Movies and a Lesson Learned


    A few years back, I put together a roundup of 25 holiday classic movies to help people find their holiday spirit:

    What 25 Holiday Classics Teach Us About Life and Fun

    The post was pretty broken in terms of formatting, but the content is evergreen, so I took the time to revamp it.  It should be 1000 times better now (at least.)

    If you’re a movie buff, you'll recognize a lot of the classics, like The Lemon Drop Kid, or The Bishop’s Wife, or White Christmas.

    I can never find anybody who has actually seen Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, though it’s still one of my favorite versions.

    And when it comes to Claymation, my favorite is still Rudolph.  I can never forget the scene where Yukon Cornelius says, “Look at what he can do!”, and the Bumble (the Abominable Snowman) puts the star on the top of the tree, without a ladder.

    And whenever I see a sad looking little tree, I can’t help but wonder if adding a bunch of lights would magically transform it into a big, magnificent, and full tree, Charlie Brown style.

    Transformation isn’t magic though.

    It’s a lot of work.  A lot of smart work.

    As you get ready for this coming year, I hope that the key lessons you learned, and the key insights from this past year serve you well.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s how investing in the right capabilities pays off time and time again.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Personal Development Articles Free and At Your Fingertips


    Browse free personal development articles that will elevate your game in work and life.   If you have a passion for personal development, then you’ll enjoy this knowledge base of personal development articles on Sources of Insight:

    Personal Development Articles

    There are more than a 1,000 personal development articles in the knowledge base.   I’ve grouped them into meaningful buckets across mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, and fun.

    I’ve spend many, many, many $1,000s of dollars on books and training over the years.  

    For the past several years, I’ve made it a habit to share more of what I learn and what I use in the real world on Sources of Insight.

    The singular goal is to empower you with skill and help you be as effective as possible in all that you do.

    Or, as I like to say it with a phrase:

    Skills to pay the bills and lead a better life.

    If you don’t have time to read all the personal development articles, then just read this one:

    There is No Shortage of Time


  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Lists at a Glance


    Lists are your friend when it comes to productivity, focus, and personal effectiveness.   If you’re  a Program Manager, you already know the value of lists, whether it’s a list of scenarios, a list of features, a list of bugs, a list of milestones, a list of open work, etc.

    I use lists of all kinds to collect, organize, and simplify all sorts of information.   Here is my newly renovated Lists page on Sources of Insight:

    Lists at a Glance

    I have lists of books, movies, quotes, and more.  I also have checklists that you can use to improve things like focus or leadership in work and life.

    Here are a few of my favorite lists from the page:

    If you only read one list, read 101 of the Great Insights and Actions for Work and Life.  It might seem long but it’s a super consolidated list of things you can use instantly to make the most of what you’ve got and to apply more science to the art of work and life.

    Here are a few examples from 101 of the Greatest Insights and Actions for Work and Life:

    Job satisfaction — Autonomy, identity, feedback significance, and variety.  If you want to truly enjoy your job, focus on the following characteristics: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, feedback.     See  Social Psychology (p. 423)

    “How does the story end?” – How the story ends, matters more than how it starts.  A happy ending is a very powerful thing.   The ending of the story is often more important than the beginning.  Daniel Kahnenman says that a bad ending can ruin your overall experience or memory of the event.

    “Doublethink” — Think twice  to visualize more effectively.  Think twice to succeed.  Focus on the positive and the negative.  You can visualize more effectively if you imagine both the positive side and the negative side.  First, fantasize about reaching your goal, and the benefits.  Next, imagine the barriers and obstacles you might face.   Now for the “doublethink” … First, think about the first benefit and elaborate on how your life would be better.  Next, immediately, think about the biggest hurdle to your success and what you would do if you encounter it.  In 59 Seconds:  Think a Little, Change a Lot, Richard Wiseman says that Gabriele Oettingen has demonstrated time and again that people who practice “doublethink” are more successful than those who just fantasize or those who just focus on the negatives.

    Delphi Method — Use “Collective Intelligence” to find the best answers.  The Delphi technique is a way to use experts to forecast and predict information.   It’s a structured approach to getting consensus on expert answers.  The way it works is a facilitator gets experts to answer questions anonymously.  The facilitator then shares the summary of the anonymous results.  The experts can then revise their answers based on the collective information.  By sharing anonymous results, and then talking about the summary of the anonymous results, experts can more freely share information and explore ideas without being defensive of their opinions.  See Delphi Method.

    The Power of Regret — Reflect on your worst, to bring out your best.    In 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, Richard Wiseman says, “research conducted by Charles Abraham and Paschal Sheeran has shown that just a few moments’ thinking about how much you will regret not going to the gym will help motivate you to climb off the couch and onto an exercise bike.”


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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How Tos for Personal Effectiveness at a Glance


    "Information is not knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

    We live in a super-competitive world.  It’s also a super-collaborative world.   How ironic.  But, I guess, in that way, it’s kind of like Survivor. 

    We need to learn how to do things better, faster, and cheaper, and what you don’t know can hurt you.

    How Tos are still my favorite way of learning how to get things done, and for sharing and scaling expertise in a simple way.

    In the sprit of helping you get better, faster, and more capable, I’ve revamped my How Tos page on Sources of Insight (my blog on “proven practices for personal effectiveness.”)  Here is my updated How Tos page (Index of How Tos organized by Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, etc.):

    How Tos at  a Glance 

    Here are a few of my favorites that I think you’ll enjoy:

    1. How To Achieve Any Goal
    2. How To Change Any Experience
    3. How To Change Any Habit
    4. How To Find Your Strengths
    5. How To Find Your Why
    6. How To Communicate with Anyone
    7. How To Inspire a Vision
    8. How To Not Break Under Pressure
    9. How To Set Better Goals
    10. How To Think Like Bill Gates

    I think you can use any of these to instantly get quick benefits and apply new skills or approaches.  Or, if you have a better approach, then you can share it with me, and I can improve the How To Winking smile

    If you only have time to read one, read How To Think Like Bill Gates.

    A common reaction people have when they read that one is at first they think it’s all common sense, but then when they read the part at the end that contrasts it with typical default thinking patterns, they realize the enormous gap between every day thinking and thinking like the big “G” man.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    10 Emotional Intelligence Articles for Improving Your Effectiveness in Work and Life


    Emotional intelligence is one of the most important tools to add to your tool belt, whether you are a leader, a manager, a manager of managers, or an individual contributor that needs to influence without authority.

    Emotional intelligence is “the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.” 

    It’s powerful stuff.

    Here are 10 of my past posts from this year that will help you learn some new emotional intelligence skills that you can apply immediately:

    1. A Lighter Feeling - What if you could release negative emotions and feel lighter and ready for anything as you go about your day?  You can, if you know how, and the key is, it’s not in your head.
    2. Delayed Gratification: Make It a Better Pill to Swallow - Delayed gratification shows up time and again as one of the best ways to live a better life.  It’s how we rise above the pitfalls of instant gratification.   It’s also how we focus on doing more of what’s important.  But how can we master it?
    3. Emotional Intelligence Quotes – Emotional intelligence is often the difference that makes the difference when it comes to your success in work and life.  This is a roundup of my favorite emotional intelligence quotes from Benjamin Franklin, Buddha, Dale Carnegie, Vincent Van Gogh, and a bunch of other people you probably never heard of.
    4. Empathic Listening: The Highest Form of Listening – Stephen Covey taught us that if we want others to listen to us, we first need to listen to them.  But what’s the best way to listen?  Empathic listening.  It’s where we listen until the other person feels understood.  It sounds so simple, and it is, but where the gap comes in is knowing what to do, and actually doing what you know.
    5. How To Change Any Experience to Empower You -- What if you could change the effect any experience has on you?  What if you could change any feeling, emotion, or behavior for yourself in a matter of moments?  You can.  By changing your state.  You can change how you represent any experience, whether it’s memories of the past, your current experience, or scenarios in the future.
    6. How To Free Yourself from Negative Emotions – Negative emotions are our worst enemies.  What if you could free yourself from negative emotions?  Or, what if you could at least reduce getting stuck and wallowing in negative emotions?  You can.  But you need to know how.  In this article, Brian Tracy shares deep insight into the 4 root causes of negative emotions so we can identify and eliminate them.
    7. How To Get in Superman Mode for Unshakable Confidence - You can’t talk to yourself in a meek and meager way, and expect powerful results.  But, what if you could flip a switch and talk to yourself in a way that’s more assertive, confident, and believable?  You can. And, imagine having a more powerful voice on your side to give you an edge in everything you do, and to help lift you up whenever you need it most.
    8. How Not to Break Under Pressure - Whether it’s negative self-talk or negative beliefs, you can be your own worst enemy.  If you crack under pressure, what happens is you focus on all the wrong things and all the things that could go wrong to the point that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In other words, you become your greatest obstacle.  What if, instead, you could thrive under pressure?  You can.
    9. Mental Toughness Defined – A very simple definition of mental toughness.
    10. Tony Robbins on the Fastest Way to Get Over Fear - Fear can hold us back.  It can hold us back in subtle and insidious ways.  Fear can also outright paralyze us from taking action.  What if we had a way to get over fear, and experience more freedom?  Tony Robbins shows us how.

    If you only have time to read one, then I recommend starting with the following:

    How To Free Yourself from Negative Emotions 

    Best wishes for 2014!

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Nelson Mandela Quotes


    As a tribute to Nelson Mandela, I put together a comprehensive collection of the best Nelson Mandela quotes:

    Nelson Mandela Quotes

    It’s a pretty extreme collection, organized by key themes like compassion, courage and conviction, and humility.

    One of the things that surprised me is how much Mandela was about fulfillment and self-actualization.  I knew the freedom and equality focus, as well as the leadership focus, but I hadn’t realized how many great words of wisdom and pithy prose he had about making the most of what you’ve got, as well as rising above your circumstances.

    He really exemplified the idea of “follow your growth.”

    So whether you’re building your building your knowledge base for personal development or leadership insights, Nelson Mandela’s quotes should be a great fit for your collection.

    Here are a few of my favorite Nelson Mandela quotes:

    1. “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
    2. “Quitting is leading too.”
    3. “Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

    Here is the my full set of Nelson Mandela quotes.  

    Please share them with anybody you think will benefit or needs a pick me up or some little lift for their day.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Shareholder Value is a Result, Not a Strategy


    In Motley Fool Stock Advisor, David Gardner writes about a idea from 1970 that changed the business culture at large:

    “In 1970, Noble Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman wrote a famous article for The New York Times Magazine, decrying the idea that businesses should have any sense of social responsibility.  Their responsibility, he said, is to increase shareholder wealth to the greatest extent possible – pure and simple.  It was an incredibly influential idea that became common wisdom and is in large part responsible for much of the business culture we see today.  The problem is it was completely and transparently wrong.”

    David then follows up with words of wisdom from Jack Welch, Former General Electric CEO. 

    Here’s what Jack said in an interview back in 2009:

    “On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world.  Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy … Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers, and your products.  Managers and investors should not set share price increase as their overarching goal.”

    It’s a great reminder to set overarching goals that matter.

    Then great results are a by-product.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Greatest Personal Development Gifts


    I’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best personal development gifts:

    The Greatest Personal Development Gifts Ever

    I wanted to put together a profound catalog of the best personal development programs that the world has ever known.   At Microsoft, I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing mentors over the years, and they have always shared with me the programs that they’ve used to really transform their lives.  

    Success often seems like magic until you find out behind the scenes the price that people pay.

    I’ve used many personal development programs over the years.  So many of them ended up being heavy on hype, but light on insight.  I’ve learned to seek out the programs that have profound knowledge that you can use to grow your capabilities and really change your game.   I’ve written about 3 personal development programs that give you an edge in work and life before, so this time, I wanted to go above and beyond, and really share the full scope of the most powerful personal development programs on the planet.

    The Power of Programs Goes Well Beyond the Power of Books

    While I was putting together The Greatest Personal Development Gifts Ever, I was a little sad to see that some of “the great ones” are no longer with us.  Even sadder was when I looked for personal development programs by people that I thought would have created some, it turned out, they didn’t actually create any.  It reminded me of the value of information products that goes well beyond books.  There is something to be said for a “program” of sorts where you give somebody a self-paced package to work through, to practice skills and turn insight into action.

    It’s also a great reminder of how unique some people are, and how unique their gifts truly are.

    And, it’s also a reminder how valuable “evergreen” life wisdom is.

    Don’t Take Ancient Wisdom for Granted.  We’re Not “Entitled” To It.

    The other thing I learned while trying to put together The Greatest Personal Development Gifts Ever is that it’s not always so easy to give somebody a boxed set of personal development multi-media gifts.  In some cases, some things just weren’t available anymore, unless somebody on eBay wants to part with their old cassette tapes Smile  It’s a reminder that as our form factors change, it’s actually possible to “lose” some ancient or timeless wisdom.  I didn’t realize how easy this is, until I was trying to put my hands on some old classics that I knew would help some people.

    Have a System for Personal Transformation that Matches Your “Style”

    The other big thing I reflected on while putting together The Greatest Personal Development Gifts Ever is how important it is to have a system for personal transformation.   And, while it’s true that all roads lead to the same town, some paths are way better than others.  But, the real key, as always, is that you have to find the system that works for you.  For me, I prefer hard-core or extreme insight and action.  If I’m going to invest, then I want the most powerful lessons and the most rapid results presented in a way where I can quickly test my results, make progress, get feedback, and change accordingly.

    For others, they need a softer approach.   They need their journey to be more inspirational, or more emotional.   I take this into account when I give personal development gifts for the holidays.   I also took this into consideration while putting together The Greatest Personal Development Gifts Ever.   For example, if the person you are getting the gift for would prefer a “harder” style of personal development, then Tony Robbins is a great choice.  If, on the other hand, you know the person would prefer a “softer” style, then Brian Tracy or Jack Canfield would be great choices.

    Sometimes We Need to Dig a Little Deeper to Get Unstuck

    I also included a collection of self-hypnosis programs in my collection of The Greatest Personal Development Gifts Ever.  Here’s why:  It’s easy for people to get stuck.  Super easy.  It’s easy to fall into a trap of learned helplessness.  It’s easy to fall into a pit of despair when you are down and out.  It can be hard to bounce back.  You can think of self-hypnosis as a guided relaxation, but the reason I included it is because sometimes we are our own worst enemy.  Whether it’s our negative self-talk, limiting beliefs, or subconscious habits, we work against ourselves.   Self-hypnosis can help you get unstock by helping you refocus on who you want to be and what experiences you want to create, and get the power of your mind back on your side.

    I hope my catalog of The Greatest Personal Development Gifts Ever helps you save a lot of time, avoid wasting money, and find the personal development programs that actually work, whether you’re looking to find gifts for someone else, or to add to your own personal development collection.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Stephen Kell on Value Realization


    This is a guest post by Stephen Kell on Value Realization and how it can help IT organizations stay relevant through changing times, as well as become a strategic partner within the organization.  For background, Stephen is a Microsoft Enterprise Architect with extensive experience in Telecoms, Manufacturing, Financial Services and government sectors.  Over the course of his career, he has played various roles including CTO, IT Director, Enterprise Architect, and Principal Consultant.

    Without further ado, here’s Stephen on lessons learned in Value Realization …

    IT: Valued Partner or Costly Infrastructure Provider?

    During my time working within IT, I have found that business value is something that project teams worry about at the beginning of the project in order to justify initial investment but then is often forgotten as the project goes into the build and implementation phases. During these phases the emphasis is placed on the budget and timescales of the project. Scope changes are made to fit in with the budget and timescales without any thought as to the effect on the business value delivered. ‘On-time and on-budget’ is the project managers’ mantra whereas it should be ‘on-time, on-budget and business value delivered’.

    A Lack of Business Value Results in Side-Lined IT

    This lack of emphasis on business value delivered gives the business the view that IT is a cost center which provides an essential service rather than seeing IT as a valued business partner. This view is reflected in the position of IT departments under the CFO rather than as a valued member of the board reporting into the CEO or even as part of a business strategy group. The way technical people tend to communicate does not help. Often there is a long explanation of the technical merits of a solution followed by ‘it will save the user 2 hours per day’. This is where value models come in which allow the conversation to have some structure in order to attract and hold the attention of the business community.

    IT is so important to the business but they often get frustrated with the IT department’s perceived inability to deliver and thus set up their own Business Unit IT departments, side-lining the IT department to acting as the provider of infrastructure only. This trend was highlighted in the recent MIT CISR 2013 Annual Research Forum in Boston.

    Know What the Business Values, Measures, and Reports to Stay Relevant

    In order to be able to communicate the value of IT to the business, the CIO and his team need to know what the business values and how these are measured and reported:

    • Financial – what are the financial measures that need to be met?
    • Business strategy – what aligns to the current business strategy? Is there an IT based disruptor that needs to be factored into the business strategy such as enterprise social?
    • Market and industry trends – what are the trends and how can the organization exploit them using technology?
    • Regulatory changes – what regulatory changes are coming to which the organization needs to adhere?
    • People – what are the values of the organization and what will attract, retain and engage staff? Will using 10 year old technology on a system that takes 10 minutes to boot up attract and retain the right staff, or do they want the latest technology similar to the technology they use at home?
    • Social responsibility – does IT align to the social responsibility and ethical business agenda of the company?
    • Business Decision Maker’s personal drivers – what is important to the internal customer? What is he/she measured on: Revenue, margin, market penetration, expanding to new markets, acquiring new companies, changing the demographics of the customer base, other?
    • Ability to execute – can the organization put the necessary changes in place to realize the value? Has the required change management been taken into account in the project costs and plan?
    • Time to value and windows of opportunity – how long does it take before the value starts being realized and is there a window of opportunity which needs to be hit?

    Use Value Models to Bring a Level of Maturity to the Value Discussion

    How many people in the IT department know and understand the above value dimensions? Most of this information is readily available internally (and often externally). Taking time to understand what the organization values will mean that the IT department becomes much more relevant to the business and the business will start to listen and value the insights that the CIO and his team can bring, enabling them to be at the core of the decision making process and not side-lined.

    By using value models the CIO can bring a level of maturity to the value discussion which might well be missing from the business. The CFO will have some financial models but these will not necessarily cover all of the dimensions of value. This can also be a challenge for the CIO; if there are not mature value models within the business then it is difficult to articulate the value of IT.

    It’s Difficult to Model and Measure Value

    Having said that, it is difficult to model and measure value. Other blog entries on this subject have covered the Observable, Measurable, Quantifiable and Financial categorization of value so I won’t go into detail here but would point out that financial models do not cover all the goals and drivers of certain organizations. Public sector organizations and charities are about delivering social value to the countries/communities that they serve and therefore the Social Impact has to be taken into account as well as the financial aspects and indeed the Social Impact can be much more important than the financial measures. Even commercial companies are now putting emphasis on value other than pure financial such as environmental impact, or helping the unemployed back into work.

    Whereas there are some fairly mature models for modeling the financial side of a business, there are very few models for modeling the Social Impact of an organization. I have discussed this in more detail in the following blog post:

    Understanding How To Measure the Value of Public Sector Projects

    Learn Value Models and Frameworks to Play a Strategic Role Within the Organization

    So in conclusion, business value to the organization is a very important concept for IT leadership teams to get their head around if they want to play a strategic role within the organization. Without a good understanding of business value there is the risk that they will be relegated to the side-lines as the provider of the infrastructure whilst the business units set up their own IT departments. Researching the different value models and frameworks should be a priority for IT leaders who have not already done so. Understanding what the business values and delivering to increase that business value keeps the IT department at the heart of the organization as a valued partner.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    25 Bill Gates Lessons Revisited


    “Until we’re educating every kid in a fantastic way, until every inner city is cleaned up, there is no shortage of things to do.” – Bill Gates

    Bill Gates was my original inspiration for joining Microsoft.  Here was a guy with all the money in the world that showed up everyday, and put in more hours than most people I know, to change the world.

    He had ruthless focus on empowering people and building a better world.

    Technology just happens to be his way.

    Related to this, a funny thing happened a few weeks back.   I was meeting a colleague I hadn’t seen in a while.  While I was waiting, I noticed a poster on his wall. 

    It was a poster of lessons learned from Bill Gates.  It was 25 lessons learned from Bill Gates. 

    Lesson #18 caught my eye:

    Lesson #18.  The toughest feedback to hear, is the feedback you need the most.

    You get better by listening to your toughest critics.  Your greatest source of growth can come from the people that will tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear.  Bill says, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Bill also says, “You’ve got to want to be in this incredible feedback loop where you get the world-class people to tell you what you’re doing wrong.”

    I started to read a few more of the lessons.  #25 also caught my eye:

    25. Go digital.

    Connect people, process, and technology.  Create a digital landscape or a virtual world to reduce friction and to create new possibilities.  Bill says, “One of the wonderful things about the information highway is that virtual equity is far easier to achieve than real-world equity…We are all created equal in the virtual world and we can use this equality to help address some of the sociological problems that society has yet to solve in the physical world.”

    I had to ask my friend where he got the poster from.  He told me from my site:

    Lessons Learned from Bill Gates

    How funny was that?

    My friend had formatted the poster so well, I didn’t recognize my original post from long ago.

    Anyway, I did a quick formatting sweep of my post, Lessons Learned from Bill Gates.

    Hopefully, the lessons are easier to read now, and better emphasize the insight that Gates has shared with the world over his lifetime.

    BTW –- if you have any favorite lessons from Bill Gates, feel free to share them.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Blessing Sibanyoni on Value Realization


    Value Realization is hot.  You can think of Value Realization as simply the value extracted from a process or project. 

    Business leaders want to understand the benefits they’ll get from their technology solutions.   They also want to see the value of their investment deliver benefits and deliver real results along the way.   And, of course, they also want to accelerate adoption so that they can speed up their value realization, as well as help avoid “value leakage".”

    But how do you actually do Value Realization in the real world? …

    This is a guest post by Blessing Sibanyoni.   Blessing delivers advisory, IT architecture, and planning services to Microsoft’s top enterprise customers within the financial services sector.  He has more than 17 years of experience in the IT field.  He is currently an Enterprise Architect and Strategy Advisor on behalf of Microsoft Corporation. 

    As an Enterprise Strategy Advisor, Blessing helps organizations achieve challenging business and organizational goals.  He does so by helping them leverage value from their current and future investments, enabled by technology.  Blessing has a solid record of delivering large and complex initiatives within organizations while always doing this in a mutually beneficial way.  You can connect with Blessing Sibanyoni on LinkedIn.

    Without further ado, here’s Blessing on Value Realization …

    Value in the Eye of the Beholder

    Often we grapple with the notion of value.  At first it seems like a very simple thing but when you really take time to consider it, you realize how complicated and multi-dimensional it becomes.  Take a simple example of a person who follows a methodology, based on best practices, who crosses all the t’s and dots the i’s but at the end of the day experiences a failed project or is unable to reach goals that his customers appreciate.  Or perhaps, what about the notion of another who is highly intelligent but working for someone far less “intelligent” from a credentials or even IQ perspective. 

    What has happened here?

    Why do these paradoxes occur and how do you ensure you are not ending up experiencing the same?

    The Notion of Value

    I would argue that at the heart of these conundrums is the notion of value.  Value is the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged.  Often it’s not about inputs but rather outcomes and many state that you cannot achieve it without effecting a transformation.  The transformation itself can be virtual or manifested in the real world, but for true value to be derived, transformation in whatever form, must transpire. 

    For transformation to transpire a real pain must be felt.

    Fiercely Competing Alternatives

    After spending almost two decades in public and private enterprises, I’m still intrigued by why organizations decide to spend resources on some things and not others.  Often it’s the thing that seem to make the least sense which these organizations decide to put all their resources into. 


    This curiosity is one that lingers on especially realizing that resources are often limited and logically, one would naturally be better positioned by focusing on projects or initiatives that offer more returns and deserve more attention.  One could take the cynical view that common sense is not so common, or the perspective that organizations are made of people, and people are irrational and fallible beings that bring their own biases into every situation. 

    So the notion of value then or the expectation of what will bring value is often subjective and largely determined in the eye of the beholder. 

    Quantitative or Qualitative?

    I have met many stakeholders who are more interested in the qualitative rather than the quantitative.  Surprisingly, this is true, even in financial services! 

    Giving such people a quantitative, seemingly logical justification is often destined to result in failure, and the converse is also true.  So, knowing your stakeholders, what drives and resonates with them is more important that coming up with a definitive, objective, rational and quantitative hypothesis in order to convince them to take some action.

    Recently I was fortunate to have worked with a senior executive who was very financially inclined with a major focus on bottom line impact.  This stakeholder did so well in the organization that he was soon promoted.  To my surprise the person who replaced him was much more people oriented and his biggest concerns were around how the changes proposed would impact people within the organization.  The new stakeholder’s view was that people came first and happy employees result in a positive bottom line effect. 

    I believe both execs had a great view, even though it seemed that their perspectives were fundamentally different. 

    The key for me was to ensure that both qualitative and quantitative arguments were well prepared in advance so that we could tell compelling stories that drove the agenda regardless of the different concerns and viewpoints.

    Know Thy Foe

    Knowing your industry and thinking ahead about what your stakeholders may not yet know that they need or desire, is also a very valuable thing to do. 

    Think about the world of tablet computers that nobody knew they needed just a few years ago, yet these things are now taking the world by storm...

    A Few Lessons Learned in the Trenches

    At the beginning I spoke about blind implementation of a methodology being a less than great thing, I would argue that the following steps make great sense around realizing that value, in the eye of the beholder:

    1. First, seek to understand (Analyze the situation, the pains, problems being experienced and clearly identify who is being impacted – empathy is an important quality!)
    2. Take time to synthesize, communicate back the pain at its essence and color your findings with different perspectives
    3. Ensure you leave behind each interaction, always having taught something new to your customer - even if it’s a small thing. 
    4. Make your plan of action ensuring you focus on what will be high impact and high value to your stakeholder without losing sight of the bigger picture and remaining realistic  
    5. Take action, early and often whilst being nimble and adaptable as necessary
    6. Always endeavor to be mutualistic.  The power of reciprocity really goes a long way!

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