“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:
- The Rule of 3
- Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection
- Hot Spots
Let’s take a quick look at each one.
The Rule of 3 – “Think in Threes”
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!
Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection — “A Weekly Results Pattern”
This is the heart of Agile Results. Monday Vision, Daily Wins, 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:
On Mondays, identify three results you want to achieve or realize 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.
This is working backwards from the end in mind.
This Monday Vision is how you figure out what a great week for you will look like.
The key is that this takes into consideration, what are your Three Wins that will be worth it, given the timing of things, the urgency of things, the priority of things, your desire and your energy.
By identifying Three Wins that are worth it, you will pull yourself forward and rise above the chaos of your week.
Whenever you find yourself in chaos, you can take the balcony view and remember your Three Wins.
They are your North Star of the week.
Your Three Wins for the Week will create clarity. Your Three Wins for the Week will generate energy. And your Three Wins for the Week will help you deliver better results.
Each day, identify Three Wins that you want to achieve for today.
What are the Three Wins you want for today, given your time, your energy, and your priorities?
If you’re having a really bad day, your Three Wins for Today might be as simple as – have a great breakfast, a great lunch, and a great dinner.
Yeah, some days will be like that. And this will remind you to take care of yourself, so you can take care of others, too.
Ideally you can see how it connects back to your Three Wins for the Week you want for the week.
Your Three Wins for Today provide a simple set of objectives for your day.
By using your Three Wins for the Week and your Three Wins for Today, you now have a simple way to see the forest for the trees.
As you practice identifying your Three Wins for Today, you will find that your Three Wins pull you forward through your day.
After all, your Three Wins for Today are meaningful achievements. They matter. At least to you.
You can also think of your Three Wins for Today as mini-headlines.
Think about that. What are your three mini-headlines for today?
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.
This is how you create a learning loop to get better over time.
The key here is to focus on mastery not performance. Performance is a by product of focusing on getting better and improving.
Don’t get stuck on your results. What you really want is to focus on learning and insights with a growth mindset, that help you get better over time.
You will get better through self-awareness.
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.
Celebrate Your Wins No Matter How Small
Did you know that you can’t feel fear and gratitude at the same time?
Did you know that an attitude of gratitude is the number one way to deepen your happiness for real?
The key each week and each day is to celebrate your wins, no matter how small.
This will teach you compassion.
This will also help you avoid throwing away all of your results, or being dismissive about your accomplishments.
By appreciating your accomplishments, you will be practicing an attitude of gratitude.
You will also be learning what’s valued, by yourself and by others.
Value is the ultimate short-cut.
Once you know what truly matters, everything else sort of melts away.
As you increase your clarity around what’s valued by you, by others, by whatever system you are in, you learn how to flow more value, and you learn how to eliminate or reduce the low-value activities that clutter your work and life.
As Bruce Lee would put it, “Hack away at the unessential.”
Hot Spots — “See the Heat Map”
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:
For many of you, you will include spirituality, too. This is just a starter set of buckets or Hot Spots, but you need to figure out the Hot Spots that matter for your.
Hot Spots are simply areas of focus.
They might represent a lot of pain for your, 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 help us see our portfolio of activities and outcome in a more organized way. They help us balance our investment of time, energy, and focus across our competing demands, and multiple aspects of life.
Life Hot Spots is a simple framework for organizing and reflecting on and acting on the big rocks in your life.
As Stephen Covey taught us, if you don’t make space for the Big Rocks, you won’t fit them in.
And it’s these Hot Spot areas that really shape the quality and experience of your work and life.
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.
Let’s recap the key things we learned from our tour:
- Use the Rule of 3 to deal with information overload and set simple limits each day and each week.
- 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.
- 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.
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