Personal Effectiveness at Microsoft

Getting things done, making things happen, and being effective at Microsoft is tough.  Microsoft is, in many ways, the ultimate dojo of personal growth.  You can never be "too good" at productivity, time management, leadership, etc.

I was happy to see my book on personal effectiveness, Getting Results the Agile Way, alongside Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on Amazon's Best Sellers list.


I’ve been a Stephen Covey fan for a long time and he really taught me the value of personal effectiveness, and he helped me focus on principles, patterns, and habits, which I ended up taking to the next level on the Microsoft patterns & practices team.

Getting Results was downloaded almost 5,000 times yesterday.

Find Your Breakthroughs

I’m hoping that it helps many people find a breakthrough they’ve been looking for.   It’s a powerful book for breakthroughs because it’s a system.  And, the system gets better over time.   The heart of Agile Results is a weekly results pattern I call: Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection.   It helps you focus on creating extreme value, while responding to change.   It’s a continuous learning system, so you get to practice and improve your personal productivity, time management, and work-life balance skills, with a simple system for meaningful results.

In this way, it’s actually a system that not only helps you with private victories, but it helps you find breakthroughs in how you achieve your results.   It’s these breakthroughs that help you take your skills and abilities to the next level.  And when you fall down, the system helps you get back up.   (One of my favorite mantras here is the timeless saying, “Fall seven times; stand up eight.”

From Individuals to Teams and Leaders

The ultimate surprise is that you can use the same system for results at home, or for leading large teams around the world.  From small business owners, to CEOs, to consultants in the field, people are using Agile Results to master time management, productivity, and work-life balance with a twist.  The twist is focusing on value as the short-cut.  By using value as your North Star, you shave off things that don’t matter, and you spend the right energy, on the right things, at the right time, the right way.   Teams at Microsoft are now using Agile Results to get the edge at work and to quickly find ways to help everybody bring out their best and collaborate around wins and impact.

It’s the ultimate synergy of personal effectiveness in action.

Is it Effective?

The best question I ever learned to ask, when it comes to personal effectiveness is, “Is it effective?”  It sounds like such a simple question, and it is.  It’s also very revealing.  One of my most effective managers would always ask the question, “Is it effective?”   It’s the very question that leads to reflection and personal insight, and ultimately change.

People are creatures of habit, and you’d be surprised (or, not) how easy it is to fall into a habit of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.   Einstein is famous for saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Herein lies the challenge.  How do you change?  You need to break the loop.   Agile Results snaps you out of the loop because you are basically coming up with your personal “tests for success” and then testing and checking your results.  It’s this little loop that helps you tune and prune your habits and practices for better results, and take your personal effectiveness to the next level.

Mind, Body, Emotions, Career, Finance, Relationships, and Fun

Personal effectiveness is an enormous space, but the common denominator is you.   It’s all about you and your personal growth.  Some of the best areas to grow in are: mind, body, emotions, career, finance, relationships, and fun.   It’s the synergy across these buckets that helps us bring more to the table, and get more out of any situation.

The beauty is that there are incredible bodies of knowledge in these areas with amazing principles, patterns, and practices, where you can continuously draw from, and learn new ways to shape your personal effectiveness.   (I share many of them at my personal effectiveness blog, Sources of

By using Agile Results, you can use the practice of 30 Day Improvement Sprints to add a little more emphasis to an area where you want to really focus on and improve.   The 30 Day Improvement Sprints help you try an experiment each day, and by doing something small each day, you can change habits, or find your breakthroughs, or build the “muscle” to do something you haven’t been able to do before.  The most important thing that happens is that you build up a bunch of little insights over the month that help you see things in ways, you’ve never seen them before.

Success is When the Response Equals the Challenge

One of my favorite definitions of success is Steven Covey’s:  “Success is when the response equals the challenge.”   It’s another reminder that the game we have to learn how to play, and ultimately master is this little loop:

What’s the challenge? … What’s the change?

When you learn to frame the problems in your life, as opportunities to respond to the challenge, you find ways to expand what you’re capable of.  You change yourself in ways that improve your personal effectiveness for any situation.   In a way, you become ready for anything.

And that’s one of the big themes that will help you in our ever-changing world:

Ready for anything.

Call to Action

If you want to be ready for anything, respond more effectively to the challenges in work and life, and to take your personal effectiveness to new levels, check out Getting Results the Agile Way.   If you already have it, and already know it, then challenge yourself to teach three people you care about to get the system on their side.

Comments (1)

  1. Michael Spivey says:

    Thanks for all the great thoughts and breaking it down into actionable insights, like following the Monday Vision, Daily Wins and Friday Reflection pattern and 30 Day Improvement Sprints pattern that lets you try an experiment each day.

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