Note: This article is updated at Agile Results on a Page.
Agile Results is a simple system for getting meaningful results.
It's a systematic way to achieve both short- and long-term results. It works for all aspects of your life, from work to fun. The key to achieving results in our ever-changing world is learning and responding to change.
Traditional 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.
With Agile Results, you are in control. You shape your days and weeks so you can flourish and amplify your impact. It’s a way to make daily progress, follow YOUR path of fulfillment, and spend your time and energy on the most meaningful things.
Think in threes to focus your time, energy, and your actions. Identify three wins that you want to achieve:
- Three wins for the day.
- Three wins for the week.
- Three wins for the month.
- Three wins for the quarter.
- Three wins for the year.
Bonus – Three wins for your decade, and three wins for your life.
These wins act as your tests for success and they focus your tasks, while making it a game. Focusing on three wins also helps you reframe problems into challenges. At the same time, it helps you identify, acknowledge, and appreciate your personal victories.
Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection
This is a simple way to get started with Agile Results:
- On Mondays, identify three wins that you want for the week. Ask yourself, “If this were Friday, what are three things I would want to have achieved or accomplished?”
- Each day, identify three wins that you want for the day. Ask yourself, “What are the three wins I want for today?” Say them out loud. Write them down on paper. Saying them out loud simplifies them, and writing them down on paper helps them stick.
- On Fridays, identify three things going well, and three things to improve. Make a recurring appointment with yourself on Fridays. In your appointment, ask yourself, “What are three things going well?.” Follow up with, “What are three things I want to improve?” Identity three things you can do to carry the good forward, or change your approach so that you can make next week, a better experience.
It’s all about driving a better experience, each day, and each week. By identifying your wins for the week, you give yourself the ability to zoom out from your day. By identifying your three wins for the day, you get to zoom in to where the action is. By thinking in terms of wins, you jump ahead to the end-in-mind. By focusing on what’s going well each week, you learn your personal success patterns, and what to keep doing, or what to do more of. By focusing on three things to improve, you improve your personal performance. This personal process helps you continuously learn and improve day over day, week over week, and your little wins add up for exponential results.
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 things. You can use The Rule of 3 at different levels. For example, you can use The Rule of 3 to pick three outcomes for the day, the week, the month, and the year. This helps you see the forest from the trees. For example, your three outcomes for the year are a higher level than your three outcomes for the month, and your three outcomes for the week are a higher-level than your three outcomes for the day.
- Monday Vision, Daily Wins, 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
- 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. both timebox and scaling to day/week/month/etc.
- Flexible. fresh start every day, dynamically adjust to changing reality
- Resilient. tolerates falling down, feedback to learn, incremental versioning
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.
- 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.
- 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 instead of spill what’s on your plate.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
These are some basic concepts that underlie Agile Results;
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
12 Core Practices of Agile Results Defined
At the heart of any system is a set of practices. It’s the practices that make or break a system. Combined with the 10 values and 10 principles, the 12 core practices complete the foundation of Agile Results:
- 30 Day Improvement Sprints. (aka “Monthly Improvement Sprints”.) Pick one thing to improve for the month. Each month, pick something new; this gives you a chance to cycle through 12 things over the year. Or if necessary, you can always repeat a sprint. The idea is that 30 days is enough time to experiment with your results throughout the month. Because you might not see progress in the first couple of weeks while you’re learning, a month is a good chunk of time to check your progress.
- Action Lists. Track your actions with tickler lists. Consider the following action lists: Daily Outcomes, Weekly Outcomes, Queues, and Scripts.
- Daily Outcomes. Each day is a new chance for results. Use daily tickler lists for action items; create a new list each day. Each day, decide on three things you want to accomplish (The Rule of 3). Always start your list with your three most important outcomes for the day. The key to an effective Daily Outcomes list is that you keep your three outcomes for the day at the top, while listing the rest of your to-dos below that. This way you have a reminder of what you want to accomplish.
- Growth Mindset. Your mind is not fixed, it’s flexible. It’s always growing. You are expanding your capabilities. This is simply a decision. You decide that you will continue to learn and grow. If you get knocked down, you’ll get up again. You decide that no problem is personal, pervasive or permanent. Life is not static. Neither are your results.
- Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection. Decide three results you want to accomplish for the week. Decide what three results you want to accomplish each day. Make progress each day. At the end of the week, reflect on your results.
- Reference Collections. Some information is not actionable. Yes, it might be helpful information, and yes, it might be good to know. But if it’s not actionable, then it’s reference. You can store your reference information as tickler lists or notes. Here are some example reference lists you might keep: Ideas, Notes, Weekly Results, Monthly Results, and Yearly Results.
- Scannable Outcomes. Think of this as what’s on your radar. At a glance, you should be able to see what you want to accomplish and what you’re spending your time and energy on. Outcomes guide your actions. Keep your outcomes scannable at a glance. Organize outcomes by your work, personal, and life Hot Spots. For example, create a list of outcomes for your Life Frame Hot Spots: body, career, emotions, financial, fun, mind, and relationships.
- Strong Week. Each week focus on spending more time on activities that make you strong and less time on activities that make you weak. Push activities that make you weak to the first part of your day. By doing your worst things first, you create a glide path for the rest of the day. Set limits; stuff the things that make you weak into a timebox. For example, if the stuff that makes you weak is taking more than 20 percent of your day, then find a way to keep it within that 20 percent boundary. This might mean limiting the time or quantity. Sometimes you just can't get rid of the things that make you weak; in that case, balance it with more things that energize you and make you strong. Apply this to your week too. Push the toughest things that drain you to the start of the week to create a glide path. Do the same with people. Spend more time with people that make you strong and less time with people that make you weak. Be careful not to confuse the things that make you weak with challenges that will actually make you stronger. Grow yourself stronger over time.
- The Rule of 3. This is the heart of your Daily Outcomes. The Rule of 3 will help you stay focused on the vital few things that matter. Identify your three key outcomes each day, each week, each month, and each year. This helps you see the forest from the trees. The three outcomes for the year are bigger than the three outcomes for the month which are bigger than the three outcomes for the week which are bigger than the three outcomes for your day. This also helps you manage scope. It’s all too easy to bite off more than you can chew. Instead, first nail the three items you want to accomplish, and then bite off more. Think of it as a buffet of results and you can keep going back—just don’t overflow your plate on each trip.
- Timebox Your Day. Set boundaries for how much time you spend on things. If you keep time a constant (by ending your day at a certain time), it helps you figure out where to optimize your day and prioritize. To start, you can carve up your day into big buckets: administration, work time, think time, and people time.
- Triage. Triage incoming action items to either do it, queue it, schedule it, or delegate it. Do it now, if now is the time, or it’s the next best thing for you to do; or it’s the most opportunistic time, or it will cost you more pain, time or effort to do it later. Queue it (add it to your queue) if it’s something you need to get done, but now is not the right time. Schedule it if you need a block of time to get the work done. Delegate it if it’s something that should be done by somebody else.
- Weekly Outcomes. Create a new list each week. Each week is a new chance for results. Always start with your three most important outcomes for the week (The Rule of 3).
Test it For Yourself
The simplest way to see if Agile Results is right for you, is to take it for a test drive. Here is a simple way to test-drive Agile Results:
- Write down three wins that you want for today. Congratulations – you’re doing Agile Results! The preferred approach is to you a sticky note pad, but anything works – even a napkin.
- Test-drive the Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection pattern. On Monday, identify three wins you want for the week. Each day, identify three wins you want for the day. On Friday, identify three things going well, and three things to improve.
- Test-drive a 30 day improvement sprint. Use a practice from Agile Results, to learn Agile Results. Decide that this month will be about changing your game, changing your results, and changing your experience in work and life. Do something small each day for 30 days to build momentum. Each day is a new chance. At a minimum, each day, you can identify your three wins that you want. For 30 days of little lessons, check out 30 Days of Getting Results at http://30DaysOfGettingResults.com
- 30 Days of Getting Results (http://30DaysOfGettingResults.com)
- Getting Results.com (http://GettingResults.com)
- Case Studies and Testimonials (http://gettingresults.com/wiki/Testimonials)
- Knowledge Base (http://gettingresults.com/wiki/Knowledge_Base)
- Getting Results the Agile Way (Paperback)
- Getting Results the Agile Way (Kindle)