Day 1 – Take a Tour of Agile Results

“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 - "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:
  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 Wins– 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.
Hot Spots -- "See Your Life as a 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:
  • 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.
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: