Getting Results the Agile Way introduces Agile Results®—a simple system for getting meaningful results.
To put it another way, it’s a systematic way to achieve both short- and long-term results, and it works for all aspects of your life, from work to fun. The key to achieving results in an ever-changing world is learning and responding to change. Existing methods of planning and goal setting are heavy and static, and they just aren’t working anymore. Agile Results provides just enough planning to get you going, but makes it easy to change your course as needed.
Story-Driven Results … Each Day, Each Week
With Agile Results, you write your story forward. Each day you identify three wins, and each week you identify three wins for the week:
3 Keys to Agile Results
These are three keys to adopting Agile Results:
- The Rule of 3. This is a simple guideline that helps you focus and prioritize. Bite off three key things. You can use The Rule of 3 at different levels to zoom in and zoom out and take a look from the balcony. For example, you can use The Rule of 3 to pick three results for the day, the week, the month, and the year. This helps you see the forest from the trees. For example, your three wins for the year are a higher level than your three wins for the month, and your three wins for the week are a higher-level than your three wins for the day.
- Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection. This is a simple pattern for weekly results. Each week is a fresh start. On Mondays, you think about three results you would like for the week. Each day you identify three results you would like for the day. On Friday’s, you reflect on lessons learned. On Friday, you ask yourself, what three things are going well and what three things need improvement. This weekly pattern helps you build momentum.
- Hot Spots. Hot Spots are your heat map for work and life. They help you map out and prioritize your results. Hot Spots are your lens to help you focus on what’s important in your life. They can represent areas of opportunity or pain. It helps to organize your Hot Spots by work, personal, and life. At a glance, you should be able to quickly see the balls you’re juggling and what’s on your plate. To find your Hot Spots, simply make a list of the key things that need your time and energy. The goal is to easily answer the question, “what do you want to accomplish?” for each of these key areas. Most importantly you should have scannable outcomes for your Hot Spots. Scannable outcomes are simply a tickler list of what you want to accomplish. When you know the results you want in your Hot Spots in your work and personal life, you have a map for your results.
Time-Based, Flexible and Resilient
Agile Results is time-based, flexible, and resilient:
- Time-based. Time is one of your most precious and unique resources. By using time to set boundaries and establish a rhythm of results, you will manage your energy more effectively and improve balance in work and life. Agile Results scales from the day to the week to the month or to the year. It’s as much or as little as you need.
- Flexible. You get a fresh start every day and you can adjust to a changing reality.
- Resilient. If you fall off the horse, it’s easy to get back on. Learn and respond while carrying your lessons forward. Find a way forward making while getting incremental results.
From This to That
These are some drivers that set the stage for Agile Results:
- It’s a system over ad-hoc. Don’t luck into success. Trust a system over make things up as you go or hope for the best. Agile Results is a system for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly results. With Agile Results, you have a proven system for sustainable results and improving your results along the way. Most importantly, you have a reliable way to get back up, time and again. When you have routines for how you produce results, you can learn and improve. It’s one thing to produce results randomly, while it’s another to have a system you can count on. When you have a system, you can tune and prune what works for you.
- Meaningful results over just doing tasks. Choose your best results as you go that match your goals, your desires, your dreams, and the way you want to live your life. Invest your time and energy on your path, while dealing with change, and responding to your basic needs of the day, the week, the month, or year. Achieve meaningful results instead of throwing time at problems or focus on productivity for productivity’s sake.
- You drive the system over the system drives you. You’re not a slave to the system. You’re the driver. Your tools and lists as input – you drive your action.
- Fresh starts over baggage. Get a fresh start each day, each week, each month, each year. Do more of what’s important, do less of what’s not. Drop what’s not working for you, do more of what is. You get a fresh start each day, each week, each month, each year. Gone are the laundry lists of to dos that will never get done. Make room for your next best things and travel light.
- Focus on outcomes over getting lost in activities. Outcomes provide a lens for focus. Outcomes are the results you want to accomplish. Just doing more activities and throwing more time and energy at problems won’t necessarily produce the results you want. By starting with outcomes, you define what good will look like and you give yourself a compelling path to work towards. Working on the right things to produce the right results for your current situation is a recipe for success.
- Focus on quality over quantity. Bite off what you can chew. Take multiple trips to the buffet, instead of overload one heavy plate. First, clear your plate, then take on more.
- Focus on strengths over your weaknesses. Rather than spend all your time improving your weaknesses, spend your time playing to your strengths. While it’s important to reduce your liabilities, you’ll go further, have more passion, and produce more effective results by spending more time in your strengths. In areas that you are weak, one of your best moves is to partner or team up with others that supplement you. If you can’t outsource your weaknesses, you can find more effective mentors or pair up with other people that help you amplify your results. Teamwork is the name of the game and remember that one person’s weakness is another person’s strength. Also remember that your strengths are a valuable asset for yourself and others. It’s a skills-for-hire economy.
- Focus on approach over just focus on results. Enjoy the process. How you accomplish your results is more important than the results themselves in the long run. Your approach is your foundation. It’s what you fall back on when you don’t know the way forward. Your approach should be sustainable. You should also be able to improve your approach over time. Your approach should be consistent with your values. Your approach should play to your strengths and limit your weaknesses.
These are some basic concepts that underlie Agile Results:
- Story-driven results. Use stories, not tasks to guide and direct your life. Identify your three most compelling stories of results for the day, the week, the month, and the year. You can start right now by asking, “What are three results I want for today?” … Tell yourself three stories for the day about what you’ll accomplish – kill’em with kindness, draft my raving review, and have the time of her life with my wife.
- Get back on your horse. It’s easy to get on your horse, or get back on your horse, if you fall off. Just ask yourself, “What three results do I want for today?”
- Use your best energy on your best things. Spend less time and make more impact. It’s not the time you spend, it’s the energy you leverage. Use your best power hours for results, and your best creative hours for your creative impact. Agile Results focuses on living your values and playing to your strengths, improving your energy, passion, and results. The strength of your results is a product of your time, energy and technique. So while the path is flexible, it’s about playing to your strengths, using power hours effectively, and scheduling time for your results … and using timeboxing for focus and engagement …. Fully engaged results. Work less, accomplish more meaningful results with the least amount of effort and the maximum impact.
- Hot Spot driven. Achieve work-life balance by investing in yourself across your most meaningful areas. By using a set of hot spots, or areas of focus to invest in, you create a simple heat map for investing your time and energy where it matters most.
- Growth and renewal. Agile Results focuses on growth and renewal. Rather than lead your life like a camel where one more straw will break your back, it’s about cutting the dead wood and traveling light. It’s also about carrying the good forward. It’s also about being in the moment and living a day at a time, with a healthy outlook towards opportunities and threats. Learning is an essential part of the system.
- The rhythm of results. Ride the day, the week, the month, and the year and make them work for you. Think in terms of daily results, weekly results, monthly result, and yearly results. It’s a rhythm. Iterate on your results. Version your results over time. The rhythm of results is your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly results. This is about flowing value incrementally. Think of it as a set of trains that leave the station. If you miss a train, you can catch the next one. At the same time, you want to catch certain trains because of your time frames and windows of opportunity.
- Time, energy and technique. You don’t want to just throw more time at problems. You also don’t want to burn yourself out, just throwing your energy into things. Your results are a combination of time, energy, and technique. By using more effective techniques, you can amplify your results. This is how you use your time and energy more effectively.
- Fix time, flex scope. By fixing time, you set yourself up for success. The main things to set a fixed time for are eating, sleeping, and working out. You can also fix time within work. For example, you can decide that work is an 8 hour day. Within this, you can set timeboxes to produce results. For example, you might allow yourself an hour for administration. You might allow yourself 4 hours for execution. You might allow yourself 2 hours for think time and a minimum of an hour on communication and relationships. At a high level, you might fix time to be a 40 hour or 50 hour work week. Within that time frame, you will bite off the work you can do. What you won’t do is flex time. You won’t throw more hours at the problem each day. You’ll gradually learn to bite off what you can accomplish and manage your plate more effectively.
- Boundaries. Boundaries are simply minimums and maximums. Setting boundaries is a key to success. You’ll produce more effective results by spending the right time and energy on the right things. You can set boundaries with time. For example, I’ll spend no more than an hour on that. You can set boundaries in terms of energy, for example, I’ll stop when I start to feel tired. Most people trip up by not setting boundaries. They’ll work on something until they crash. They throw all their time in one area at the expense of other areas. Setting boundaries is how you can add balance to your life. You can spread your time and energy across the important hot spots. You can more thoughtfully invest in your results. It’s also as simple as adding little breaks in your day to recharge.
- Flow value. Find ways to flow incremental value. This could be value for yourself, your manager, your team, your town, … etc. Remember that value is in the eye of the beholder.
- Test your results. Have a bias for action. Rather than do a bunch of analysis and commit to a big plan up front, start taking action and testing you results. Testing your results is a way to find the risks and surprises earlier versus later. Test your assumptions against the real-world. Use the feedback to improve your plans. It’s this learning loop that will help you improve. A simple way to remember this is “do it, review it, improve it.” One of the surprises for a lot of people is that action creates inspiration. A lot of people wait for their moment of inspiration before they start, but what they don’t realize is that simply by starting, the inspiration can follow. It’s like going to see a movie and then enjoying it more than you expected. Give things a chance. Test yourself. Test your results.
- Continuous learning. The world’ not static. Skills aren’t static. You’re not static. Learning is a first class citizen. It’s about learning what’s important to you. It’s about taking action, getting the feedback, and changing your approach. It’s about letting go what’s not working, and testing new ways to achieve your results. It’s about personalizing your approach and continuously refining it to meet your needs. Your weekly reflection will help you learn more about yourself in terms of your strengths, your weaknesses, your passions, your bottlenecks, and ultimately your results. While improving your results, you’ll improve the way you produce results. Improving the way you produce results, will improve your enjoyment and fulfillment no matter what you work on.
Test It for Yourself
To start, just take a piece of paper and write down 3 things you want to get done in the day. This one simple act gives you a chance to design your day. It will improve your focus. You can prioritize your day around your three outcomes.
To take it for a test drive, check out Getting Started with Agile Results.