Explained - Scannable Outcomes
From Getting Results | The Book
Scannable Outcomes are simple lists of the results you want to accomplish.
By having a simple list of what you want to accomplish, you can focus and prioritize where to spend your time and energy. This also helps you see the forest from the trees and when you are mired in the thick of things, it’s a way to help remind yourself what’s important. It also helps you keep peace of mind by having your lists of results you want down in writing instead of buzzing around in your head.
You figure out your outcomes by asking … “What do you want to accomplish?” You can make as many lists as you need to support you. For example, you might make one big list for the big things you want in your life. You might make multiple lists for work, one for each big project or activity you are working on. You might make multiple lists for your personal life, one for each big activity or personal projects you have. At the top of these lists, you’ll want to bubble up your 3 most important results. This way at any time, you can remind yourself the 3 most important things in your big picture for life, the 3 most important things for work, and the 3 most important things for your personal life.
Here are key things to keep in mind with Scannable Outcomes:
- List your outcomes – the key goals you want in key areas of your work projects, personal projects, and life frame.
- Create compelling outcomes you want for your future.
- Think of an outcome as the end in mind. It’s an experience that you want in the future. An outcome is a well formed goal that you can see, hear, and feel.
- Your tasks will move you towards or away from your outcomes.
- Outcomes guide your tasks. They help you course-correct.
Example Usage Scenarios for Scannable Outcomes
Having scannable lists of outcomes help you keep your To Dos lists in check. Simply keep flat lists of outcomes chunked by area or project. These aren't the next actions. They're the results you want to accomplish. They act as prompts to help you quickly identify the next best thing to do.
Here are examples of things that you might keep lists of scannable outcomes for:
- Continuous Improvement: mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, and fun
- Goals and committments
- Recurring items (such as backup, status reports)
- Habbits or practices I'm developing
Ideally in a single view, you can first scan all of your areas. You can then quickly scan any particular area for outcomes. The big benefit from this approach is it gives you a bird's-eye view of all the areas that you're working on. This helps you avoid neglecting areas, since you always have your bigger map in easy view. This approach keeps important things on your radar and helps keep you balanced.
Using Scannable Outcomes with Hot Spots (Life, Work, and Personal)
Think of Hot Spots as a heat map or your portfolio of results. Hot Spots are areas of pain and opportunity in your life. They are the big picture before drilling into the details and they help you see, at a glance, what’s important. You can organize them by life, work, and personal as follows:
- Life Hot Spots – This includes mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, and fun.
- Work Hot Spots – This includes your key activities and projects at work.
- Personal Hot Spots – This includes your key activities and projects at home or in your personal ife.
Using Scannable Outcomes with Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection
The Scannable Outcomes helps keep the Agile Results system holistic, but flexible. It also helps keep you grounded in what’s important while things may change under your feet. It’s your simple map of what’s important and what results you want to accomplish. Here’s how to use your Scannable Outcomes with the Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection pattern:
On Mondays, figure out you key outcomes for the week. To do this:
- Remind yourself what I learned from last Friday's reflection.
- Scan your calendar
- Scan your inbox for new information
- Scan your Scannable Outcome lists for each category
For your Scannable Outcome lists, use flat lists. Name each list according to category: Body, Career, Mind, Project X, Project Y .. etc.
As you scan, use four guiding questions:
- What must be done? ... what should be done? ... what could be done?
- What customer value are you delivering? (measure in value delivered vs. activity performed)
- How are you improving yourself in key areas: mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, and fun?
- What are the things that if you don't get done ... you’re in trouble? (By using the principle of contrast, you paint a picture of where you don't want to be.)
As you scan, you can do some quick shuffling:
- Adjust you Scannable Outcome lists. Make sure priorities are at the top of each list.
- Pick the key action items and outcomes for you Monday's list of Daily Outcomes.
You’ll get a few outcomes from this:
- Most importantly, you have a mental picture for the week's outcomes (notice outcomes vs. activity)
- You know your big risks for the week
- You know your MUSTs vs. SHOULDs vs. COULDs
- You have your list of outcomes for the day -- your Daily Outcomes.
If you run a team, you can have weekly iteration meetings with you team on Mondays, so this information helps you shape the outcomes with you team.
Each day, construct your Daily Outcomes list. Since you did the bulk of the work on Monday for identifying key priorities, this is a fast exercise. In fact, ideally it’s 5 minutes. It's as fast as it takes you to identify and write your 3 key outcomes for the day down. Throughout the day, you can add to this or modify it.
Fish your email stream throughout the day for relevant actions and add these to the current day's Daily Outcome. If it's a longer term outcome, list it under your relevant Scannable Outcome List.
This is the day where I do more reflection. To do this:
- Scan you Daily Outcomes for the past week. (If you store digital notes each day, this is a fast exercise. For example, you would title each day’s outcome list by date: 2010-03-15, 2010-03-16, 2010-03-17, 2010-03-18, 2010-03-19)
- Scan your accomplishments
- Scan your backlog
As you scan, ask yourself some guiding questions:
- If something's not getting done, then why not? ... Is there a habbit or practice you need to change for efficiency or effectiveness?
- Do you need to change your approach for yourself (or the team)?
- What key lessons do you need to carry forward?
An underlying concept behind this is that important things should float to the top, less important should slough off, and you should be able to deal with change. Having your Scannable Outcomes keeps you grounded in what's important vs. urgent. This is the key to driving versus reacting. If an area is slipping that you want to improve, narrow my focus and concentrate on that. There are few problems that withstand sustained focus.