By March 4, 2010 Read More →

Getting Started with Agile Results

GettingStartedWithAgileResults

Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results.  It’s introduced in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

Agile Results is a personal results system that helps you master productivity, master your time, improve your energy, and take more action.   It also helps you achieve work-life balance.   It’s optimized around achieving meaningful results, and for helping you make the  most of what you’ve got.

Agile Results helps you win in work AND life.

On this page, you’ll learn how to get started with Agile Results.  If you do nothing else, simply identify 3 great results that you want to accomplish for today.  The rest will follow.  This helps you get mindful about your results and keeps you forward-looking. This little pattern increases your focus, your prioritization, and keeps you inspired as you carve out and drive your great results. 

Here is a quick summary of how you can get started with Agile Results.

Write Down Your Three Wins for Today

This is a quick and simple habit to adopt.  The fastest way to get started with Agile Results is to “Think in Three Wins.”  Identify Three wins for your day, Three wins for your week, Three Wins for your month, Three Wins for your Year.  In fact, to get started with Agile Results, right here, right now, right down your Three Wins you want for today.  Ask yourself, “What are Three Wins I want for today?”

For example, maybe today’s Three Wins are:

  1. I want to re-organize my workspace so I can be more productive in less time.
  2. I want to complete a draft of Vision Scope for my project.
  3. I want a map of the priorities at work, so I can get on top of things at work

It sounds simple, but this one move does many things.  It helps you clarify what you want out of today.  It helps you focus and prioritize because it’s a short list of wins.  Rather than get mired in the details or drudgery of the day, you focus on creating value.  You focus on the wins.

With Agile Results, you are the author of your life — use your Three Wins (or Three Stories) to write your story forward.

That’s It … You’re Doing Agile Results

If you can write down the Three Wins that you want to achieve for today, you’re doing Agile Results.  You took the a few moments out of your crazy busy day to step back and ask yourself what would be three great outcomes for today.

With a simple map and compass for a great day, you are back in control.

You now have a simple way to get back on track throughout the entire day.  No matter what life or work throws your way, you can come back to your Three Wins.  If something more important comes up, now you can trade up for it.  If randomizing things come your way, you can make a conscious choice whether to take it on, or let it go.

You can stop right here if you’re anxious to just start doing Agile Results.  But if you want more, and you want to see how you can use the full power of Agile Results to expand what you’re capable of, master time management and productivity, and find work-life balance, as well as learn new skills and defeat procrastination, read on.

Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection

This is a simple pattern for weekly results.  It helps you use each week more effectively by turning each week into a chance to create great results at work or in your life.   Here’s how it works:

  • Monday - On Mondays, identify 3 results for the week
  • Daily - Each day, identify 3 results you want to accomplish (this drives your day)
  • Friday - On Fridays, reflect on your results. Identify 3 things going well, and 3 things to improve.

That gives us a simple way to have great weekly results on a day to day basis, while we learn and adapt to whatever work or life throws our way.

Monthly Results

But, what about the month?  If Monday Vision, Daily Wins, and Friday Reflection helps you make the most of the week, how do you get more out of your month?   Three ways.

  1. Three Wins for the Month
  2. Monthly Themes
  3. 30 Day Improvement Sprints (Monthly Improvement Sprints)

Simply identify the Three Wins you want for this month.  Identify your Three Wins from last month.  You spent a lot of time last month on lots of things.  Put a bow on three great stories from last month.  Don’t have any?  No problem, use this month to create Three Wins that you want to look back on.  See how the system tunes itself?

Monthly Themes

Want a fresh start each month?   Think of it as turning the page.  With a fresh month at your fingertips, give it meaning by giving it a focus.  Pick a theme for the month.

For example, maybe the theme for this month is, “House in Order”, or “On Top of My Game".   Pick a theme that inspires you, and that you can do a little something each day to help it come true.

You can pick a new theme each month, or you can try again at a previous theme.

30 Day Sprints

Do you want to learn something new?   Do you want to improve something that would give you the edge?  Is there a challenge at work, or a personal challenge that you’d really like to nail?  Or, maybe you just want to change a habit?

30 Day Improvement Sprints are a great way to do just that.

30 Days gives you enough time to really explore and experiment in one thing to really make meaningful progress.  It’s also a great way to get started in something new or to learn a new habit.  In general, it takes about 21 days for things to really become more automatic and get easier.  30 Days of practice helps you get over this hump.

Each month, choose something that you really want to learn or focus on for the month.   Each day, so something small.   Your little efforts each day will add up.   Each week, on Monday Vision, you might identify a new Win to focus on in this area.   In Friday Reflection, you can step back and take a look at what’s going well and what you can improve.

Hot Spots

Hot Spots are a quick way to map out what’s important.  Simply create lists in key areas of your life.  List out the top of mind pain points or opportunities.   This will give you a clear picture of what’s important at a glance.

Here’s how to map out what’s important:

  • Identify the most important results in each area or hot spot in your life: mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, and fun (consider where you over-invested or under-invested.)
  • Consider your work projects (identify 3 great results here)
  • Consider your personal projects (identify 3 great results here)

The Sum is More Than the Parts

I’ve been trying to put my fingers on why something so simple works so well.  I think it’s the synthesis of:

  • Agile (respond to change, stories and value-driven, … etc.)
  • Outcomes over activities (instead of a task-focus, it’s a focus on results and outcomes)
  • The rule of 3 (used from military to marketing for great results and avoid overload)
  • Lean (demand driven, avoid getting stuck in the process, reduce open work, hack away at the unessential)
  • Scrum (backlog for life + weekly sprints to bite off what you can chew)
  • Stories / story-driven results (we’re wired for stories, making meaning, emotional connection)
  • Positive psychology (3 things going well, focus on forward)
  • Strengths-focus (spend more time where it matters, focus on energy)
  • Project management (think in projects, start/end, know the work, know capacity/throughput)

Together, these parts create a powerful synergy and momentum in your life.

A Simple Frame for Maximum Results

It’s a lot compacted into a simple frame

  • Be the author of your life — Use 3 stories to carve out results for your day, for your week, for your month, for your year, and for your life.
  • Ride the rhythms of results — Focus on weekly results – Monday vision, daily outcomes, Friday reflection.
  • Let things go and slough off — The art of letting the right things go to spend more time on the right things that matter.
  • Catch your next best train – Set the trains to leave the station each day, each week, each month … miss the train today, catch your next best one over dwell on the train you missed … get up to bat time and again.

What Are Your 3 Wins for Today?

You can test yourself and gauge your progress.  You’ll know you’re doing well when you can start answering the simple question, “What are my 3 results for today?”  Test yourself each day.

When you first start, you might think of things like “have a great lunch” or “clear my inbox” or “win a raving fan.”  As it becomes a habit, you’ll find yourself creating even more compelling stories and getting creative with your results.

Check out the one-page guide on getting started with Agile Results for a simple walkthrough.

Photo by Tigr.

11 Comments on "Getting Started with Agile Results"

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  1. Annabel says:

    Thanks for this, J.D. I look forward to buying your book.

    I would love to hear your take on the concept of resistance (as laid out by Steven Pressfield in his book the War of Art) as it pertains to getting results (or not). I see resistance as something even more insidious than problems of motivation because it comes from the irrational reptilian brain as opposed to the rational mind from which we get our sense of motivation.

  2. JD says:

    Hey Annabel

    I’m glad you asked … The War of Art is one of my favorite books :)

    You’re right — resistance is more insidious because we have to fight it from a different place, but we can still do effective battle when we know and respect this enemy.

    The very first thing is to reframe how we look at resistance. Just like stress, there’s good and bad. The right resistance makes you stronger — it’s your growth. Bad resistance is like pushing the weight side-ways, and just gets in the way.

    One way to fight the reptilian brain is to stay out of it … and do more from your prefrontal. There are several ways, and this is emotional intelligence in action, but here are some practical ways:
    - checklists (this is how the Air Force does it)
    - Master your stories (whenever you slip into fight-or-flight, start telling yourself a new story, starting with the facts … this is covered in Crucial Conversations)

    You defeat resistance by stacking the deck in your favor
    - compelling vision or end-in-mind
    - creating glide-paths (reduce the little friction in your day that gets in the way)
    - link it to good feelings (you can trump your reptilian brain very effectively this way)

    I would argue that motivation gets you started, but it’s connecting to passion and values that keep you going. You can help this along by making it as enjoyable as possible (whether it’s playing your favorite songs or rewarding yourself in the moment … sometimes it’s as simple as an attitude of grattitude … appreciate yourself for doing the right thing, when resistance is telling you otherwise.)

    I could say a lot on this, but I hope this is enough to get your started.

  3. 1. have left comments on 50 blogs.
    2. clear my inbox
    3. have a great dinner!!

    xo

  4. JD says:

    @ Jannie

    It looks like you’ve got clarity and results … a perfect combo!

  5. I really liked your response to Annabel above. Short, effective and to the point summary of how to fight resistance. The rule of three was the biggest revelation for me in agile results system. Love it.

  6. JD says:

    @ Lana

    Thank you. I like the fact you used the rule of 3 and resistance so close together … you reminded me that the rule of 3 is powerful way to fight resistance by avoiding overload and creating compelling stories.

  7. Hilary says:

    Hi JD .. I hope all things being equal .. I’m restarting my life to move on – so the field can be sown as I see my mother through .. first it’s interesting how the same things seem to ‘hit’ us .. eg the Stephen Pressfield book “The War of Art” .. it keeps popping up.

    So now to threes – you do set things out succinctly .. I’ve printed the post out: I’ll be using it. Today 1) catch up on the Reader & blogs, 2) write letters to my mother’s friends and family answering those we received and giving a quick update – I’ll be sloughing somewhat with this one – but a job that needs to be done 3) sort some paperwork out in preparation for some technical help tomorrow ..

    Tomorrow – a bit more sorting I expect, some business letters and then honing down the needs for the technical help .. then my mother – so that’s 4 for tomorrow .. good to dos though ..

    Thanks – I’m going to check out a couple of your links .. then on with 1, 2 and 3 for today .. Hilary

  8. JD says:

    @ Hilary

    One of our president’s turned their depression into a black cat — it helped him deal with it. I think the same is true for resistance — you can think of it as a leprechaun or whatever inspires you to win.

    Paving the path forward is tough — latching on to a compelling vision will help you through the tough times and keep you on path. Use the core of “You 2.0″ as a firm foundation. It’s all you, but you’re a lot when you can fully harness what you’ve got.

    Great start on practicing your 3′s.

  9. Hilary says:

    Hi JD .. I failed, but I will get there – I did one thoroughly – I’ll blitz through the second today, the third I started .. but my black cat of having to move my mother’s room .. will be leading me on .. I will get there .. just grateful for the resistance idea .. bouncing ball .. bouncing away from me .. I’ll go that route! Thanks for replying .. have a good week … Hilary

  10. Annabel says:

    Thanks for your insights on Resistance, JD. I like the idea of getting ideas from how the military does things—if those techniques work under such extreme stress conditions, then they should work in everyday life where the stakes are nowhere near as high.

  11. JD says:

    @ Hilary

    The bouncing ball sounds like perfect imagery.

    If it helps, one of my most effective patterns is “worst things first.” I do the worst things for the day in my first hour of the day … this way they don’t loom over me and it creates a glide-path for the rest of the day.

    @ Annabel

    I’m with you … I like the fact we can borrow these high-power techniques and get results in our everyday lives. One of my favorite books is Flawless Execution that shares how the Air Force uses checklists to help people share tribal knowledge, avoid getting overwhelmed, and get better results.