Take a Tour of Getting Results the Agile Way (Day 1 of 30 Days of Getting Results)


Day 1 - Take a Tour of Getting Results the Agile Way

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” — Albert Einstein

Welcome to day 1 of 30 Days of Getting Results.  Today, we go for a quick walk in the park.  We’ll take a tour of the Agile Results system, as it’s described in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

The power of Agile Results is the simplicity.   But don’t let the simplicity fool you.  It’s the simplicity that makes it work – for individuals, teams, and leaders, at home, at work, and at play.

Agile Results has been battled tested in the trenches of consulting, in the corporate halls of Microsoft, and around the world in various settings from personal productivity to distributed team effectiveness, both in work and in life, and even extreme scenarios (more on that another day.)  You too can get the system on your side.

The way I quickly teach colleagues how to get up and running with Agile Results is I show them three simple parts, and it takes no more than a five minute conversation.

The Three Key Parts of Agile Results
Here are the three key parts to Agile Results:

  1. The Rule of 3
  2. Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection
  3. Hot Spots

Let’s take a quick look at each one.
The Rule of 3
The Rule of 3 is a simple concept.  Think in three’s.   The Rule of 3 helps us deal with information overload.  It’s a simple way to set limits and chunk things down.  It’s easy for us to remember things in three’s.

You might have heard of the Rule of 3 before.  Even if you haven’t, it’s been all around you.  You’ve seen it in titles: The Three Little Pigs, The Three Stooges, Three Blind Mice, etc.  Storytellers structure their stories with a beginning, middle, and an end.   It’s a time tested approach and it’s been used in everything from marketing to the military.  In fact, the military teaches survival in threes: 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.

In Agile Results, we use The Rule of Three to map out what we want to accomplish in sets of three’s:

  • 3 results for the day
  • 3 results for the week
  • 3 results for the month
  • 3 results for the year

This creates a simple 3×3 system that is easy to use, easy to remember, and easy to get back on track, if you fall off the horse!

Watch the slide show on The Rule of 3.

Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection
This is the heart of Agile Results.  Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection is a simple pattern for your weekly workflow.   It’s a weekly system for getting results that helps you get a fresh start each day, and a fresh start each week.  This is the what a week looks like:


Here is a story-driven view of the same idea, which is helpful if you like to think of your results in terms of stories, and if you happen to be a software developer, this should be easy to relate to:


The way it works is pretty simple.  Each week and each day is a new chance at bat.  It works like this:

  1. Monday Vision – On Mondays, identify three results you want by Friday.  For example, maybe it’s “my presentation is complete,” “I have a written plan for my project,” and “I’ve spent a minimum of five hours doing what I love this week.”  Focus on outcomes or achievements over activities.
  2. Daily Outcomes – Each day, identify three results that you want under your belt.  If you’re having a really bad day, your three outcomes might be as simple as – have a great breakfast, a great lunch, and a great dinner.  Some days are like that.  Ideally you can see how it connects back to the three results you want for the week.  It’s this simple check between the day and the week that helps you see for forest from the trees.
  3. Friday Reflection –  Fridays are you chance to take a step back and reflect on your results.  On Fridays, ask yourself, “What are three things going well? and ask yourself, “What are three things to improve?”  This is how you start to see what’s working and what’s not, as well as learn your own capacity.

The key each week and each day is to celebrate your wins, no matter how small.  Are you getting done what you set out to do?   This is a quick check on your priorities, your focus, and what’s getting in the way.  This also helps you carry forward what’s working and what’s not, so rather than luck into success, you know exactly what works for you – you identify your personal success patterns.

I could go into a lot of details about why this works, but some of the big ideas are that you’re making mindful choices, you’re using limits of three to better prioritize and focus, and you’re using positive psychology practices by shining the spotlight on your wins.  You’re also using some proven project management and software practices in a very simple way, to help you author your life and write your story forward, one day at a time.

Watch the slideshow on Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection.

Hot Spots
When you think of Hot Spots, imagine a heat map.   Take a moment to pause and imagine a heat map in your mind.  On this heat map, think of most important things in your life right now.  Chances are they fall under one or more of the following buckets:

  • Mind
  • Body
  • Emotions
  • Career
  • Financial
  • Relationships
  • Fun

Hot Spots are simply areas of focus.  They might represent a lot of pain, or they might represent a lot of opportunity.  Either way, it’s a quick visual way to map out what’s important for you.  You can also think of Hot Spots for work.  Simply list out your top projects or activities that matter most.  You can also think of Hot Spots for your personal projects.  Again, simply list out your top projects or activities outside of work.

Hot Spots are like a portfolio.  They help us balance our investment of time, energy, and focus across our competing demands.  What you’ll tend to find is that when you invest in your mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, and fun, you improve your ability to respond to whatever work or life throws your way.  When you don’t invest in one or more of these buckets, you find that it can negatively impact the others.

At this point, all that’s important is that you know that Hot Spots are a way to visualize a map of what’s important in your life.

Watch the slide show on Hot Spots.

Let’s recap the key things we learned from our tour:

  1. Use the Rule of 3 to deal with information overload and set simple limits each day and each week.
  2. Use Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection as a pattern for weekly results.  Each week, identify three results for the week, then identify three key results you want each day, and on Friday, identify three things going well, and three things to improve.
  3. Use Hot Spots to see the forest from the threes.   Map out the key areas in your life that matter most to you.  Map out your key projects at work, and map out your key personal projects.  Simply being able to list the items is a great start.  It shows you at a glance, what’s on your radar.   This is important for choosing what to invest more in, and what to invest less in.

Here are the slides that I referred to during our tour, if you’d like to check them out:

Photo by katerha.


  1. J. D. I love the chart that outlines Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection for the one week. It makes it seem very simple and do-able. Thanks!

  2. Spending at least 1 hour each day doing something that I love is my minimum requirement. I learned from a wise friend that we have to show up every single day. Even when we are dead tired, we need to work on that thing we love just for a little while. It’s this work ethic that will open doors to new people. It’s these people that will help us grow professionally and personally.

  3. I have never heard about the Rule of 3. It makes sense, though. I often deal with information overload but have always considered it as an inevitable side effect of my job – I have to spend a lot of time online.

  4. @ Sandra — Thank you. It looks so simple now and yet it took years of testing and refinement.

    @ Karl — Committing to showing up is huge. It’s about deciding, then doing, and the daily practice makes it real, and gets us over our humps. I find that doing something daily really helps me accelerate in ways that I don’t always expect, even if it’s as simple as reducing friction and finding or creating glide paths.

    @ Vered — Here’s a quick trick … no matter how complete or exhaustive your research is, always bubble up three take aways at the top. Think of it like the ultimate distillation. It’s a way to practice precision, and deal with vast amounts of information.

  5. Hi JD,
    It is especially important to congratulate ourselves on achievements so far, so often this doesn’t happen and so motivation starts to slip.
    I like the idea of looking for hot spots, something I have never heard before but will find very useful:)

  6. @ Kate — The wins really add up and all it takes is shining the spot light on them once in a while until it’s a habit.

    I’ll elaborate more on Hot Spots later in the 30 days. It’s one of the cornerstone concepts for achieving work-life balance.

  7. Here it is 2pm in the afternoon and I have already messed up on my 3 for the day…I drove to Yin-Yoga to find they are going to do it by appointment in August, I tried to fix my clerical robe and got it mended but now need another trip to a store to get a correct hook replacement, and I missed my walk and meditation with all the running around….5 loads of laundry are on the line…and I have responded to all my comments on my blog…

    I think I will stop and have lunch and do some meditation/yin y. to get refocused…

    I did respond to a blog writing job and have researched SEO lessons…but still do not have it figured out…I need to find TESS’s list of 5 ways to do SEO – it was a reply to Barbara’s post…and it was like 3 take aways.

    I am off and running again…maybe loosing weight by getting out of my chair????

    Feeling uncharacteristically scattered as I attempt to put this into my day

  8. i have been trying to do this but it comes out well given the chart above… my task in my job which i feel overwhelmed is the fact i have to create a whole new system for them (organizational structure and dev’t)…and most of the time i am gathering info by bits bec. everyone else is spread thinly…

    i am sure this will help me onwards….

  9. @ Patricia — When you get off track, you simply ask, whether you made the right trad-offs, or if you bit off the right things, or if you need to let some things go … and simply carry the lessons forward. You start to learn your patterns. I had a habit of biting off too much or sometimes letting the wrong things get in the way. A quick way to get back on track is to simply ask yourself, “What’s the next best thing I can do, given the energy I’ve got, the time I have, and what I want to accomplish?” It’s a way to do a reset and you’ll find it to be very effective no matter how off track you might have been. What you’re basically doing is giving yourself a chance to prioritize how you’ll spend your time and energy, which is really all you can do … that’s what makes it powerful.

    As you get used to creating three main stories or “wins” for your day, you’ll find that they help you cut through any amount of overload.

    @ Riza — The big shift is really from activities or tasks to outcomes or results … and getting clarity on the value of the outcomes and results. When you have this in your hand, you’re in the driver’s seat. You can truly write your story forward by choosing your stories to make happen.

  10. Seems to be appropriate for a broad range of people, and shouldn’t be too difficult …
    elias borisov

  11. @ Elias — I’ve worked with a wide range of backgrounds and different scenarios and context, so the system has been beat up pretty well from multiple angles and dramatically simplified. In the early days, it was pretty complex because it was only for me. Then I had to make it work for teams and then multiple teams and lots of individuals. I had to make it super simple to share it and scale it. I also had to make it easy to incrementally adopt.

    As one of my friends put it, he likes Agile Results because he can just write down three stories for the day on a piece of paper and he’s doing it. It sounds simple, but yeah — just writing three compelling stories for your day can be a game changer.

  12. Hi JD .. I like your answer to Vered .. let three answers bubble up .. and hold them. I look forward to learning more about the hotspot balance ..

    I’ll be back to re-read these and remind myself .. good it’s happening in August – not so far to go back .. come September or whenever I’m more settled in the near future ..

    Go well – Hilary

  13. it’s really helpful for me to blance my work and life, which helps me think in the right way, and do on path. keep reading…

  14. @ Hilary –Thank you. Bubbling up is sometimes the only way we can really deal with overload. We can spend a lot of time trying to organize or prioritize to put things lower in the stack, but I’ve found it’s faster to let that go and spend more energy bubbling up the priorities and nailing that. The right things will keep floating to the top versus we keep bogging ourselves down.

    @ Nisten — Living your values helps go a long way to balance work and life.

  15. We maybe spend more time on planing the rule of three. And We never modify our method. We only reproduce same things.

  16. @ Gideon — Flexibility is the key to success in today’s world. The trick is knowing where to stay firm, and where to flex — the three stories help you make mindful trade-offs.

    @ Theo — Now, they’re short and to the point. For example, one of my stories today is, I need to “win a raving fan.” That’s the outcome in a nutshell and it’s connected to my values. It’s a story because there’s a change you can point to. It gets easier to express stories as one-liners, the more you practice.

  17. JD,

    Thanks for offering these ideas in the form of a 30 day course for free. I’d gladly pay for a print copy of this book as soon as it’s available.

    I’m going to implement these ideas as soon as I wake up tomorrow. It’s 11:47pm now and time for me to go to bed.

    I’ll come up with my 3 outomes for the week tomorrow (Wednesday) and for the day and keep it up for the rest of the week. I’ll report back on Friday to tell you how it went.


  18. @ Rodney — I look forward to your results. If you follow the 30 days, I think you’ll truly enjoy it. It’s free, but I attempted to make it as useful as possible.

  19. Hi J.D

    I have discovered your website today. Have been reading a number of personal development books lately – all too theoretical. The way you structure your website makes everything more applicable. Thank you and keep up the great works. I have added you to my favourites and will be looking forward to read you along.

    Wish you all the very best in your quest for a fulfilling life

  20. @ Sahzyaan — Thank you. I get a lot of practice on the job. I try to share what I learn so others can move up the stack.

    Best wishes on your path forward.

  21. […] was reading a link recommended by Kevin Kline on Getting Results the Agile way. This author talks thinking in 3s- setting goals and priorities in 3s and watch how you meet them. […]

  22. Feeling very overwhelmed with time constraints and all my responsibilities. The idea of 3’s seem simple and very doable.
    Trying to figure out how I can also apply this concept to my floor nursing job. Too little help, too many things to do, so many demands from family members and patients-I find myself frequently focusing on tasks(like I’m on a frantic hamster exercise wheel) trying to get it all done! Look forward to Day 2!
    Thank you!

  23. @ Mary — Best wishes on your road ahead.

    The habit of focusing on three wins each day and each week is a powerful one. It helps remind us what we care about, and it brings a little bit of game perspective and fun, to the challenges we face.

  24. Day 1 – Take a Tour of Getting Results the Agile Way – Sources of Insight « Things Cricket Wants on her RSS Feed

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  25. When I did the Day 1 for the first time, I was feeling skeptic and yet hoping I would find and learn something out of this 30 Days of Getting Results exercise.

    30 Days later, today, re-doing the Day 1 is just an amazing experience. Setting 3 goals has become part of my morning ritual, which is something beyond and a bit stronger than a simple routine. I even had a space in my mind to go over everyone’s comments and your kind, so-ever positive feedback, and my reflection for each comment.

    I am looking forward to re-affirm what I learned, discover what I can improve, and share my experience through making comments here. Have a good day, everyone!

    • I’m excited for how you are baking Agile Results into your daily routine.

      As simple as the system is, you can attain multiple levels of mastery. While there’s a lot of science behind the scenes, the real proof is in the pudding.

      But the most important aspect is making Agile Results work for you, so it helps you bring out your best, in work and life.

      Enjoy round two of your journey!

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