Agile Project Management, a.k.a. Scrum, is the method of choice for Getting Things Done in software development.
It has been that way for aeons (measured on an IT timescale), and rightly so. Applying Agile to other areas of work and life is a fairly recent trend, though.
Maybe it’s due to terminology that it hasn’t spread more quickly: Scrum Master still sounds like the chief shaman of some fringe religion to me. Then again, I can see how Project Coordinator would be sooooo yesterday’s news. And Priest of Proceedings at the Church of Getting Things Done way too unwieldy…
If David Allen’s Getting Things Done made the Eisenhower Matrix look like a soapbox next to a Ferrari, Agile is the Top Secret Artificial Intelligence Super-Hyper-Gamma Attack Helicopter turning that Ferrari into nano-bits of scrap metal. While brewing the perfect cup of tea and solving for world peace with its other, erm, hand.
I’m sure that Ferrari F1 fans, at least, can picture that one quite easily.
Software Development is a mirror image of our current lives:
Immense time constraints, little margin for error, the need for creative solutions to strange new problems that seem to pop out of nowhere. Speed of execution and permanent beta, while still putting out quality work.
Seen any of that going on around you lately?
The way NOT do deal with these conditions is working on the perfect plan, crafting “a perfect product (that never ships)”. If that plan actually sees the light of day, the world has long since moved on.
A classic trap in self-development hinges on the same error: “Once I’ve figured out my purpose and perfect plan for life, once I’ve set my goals just right, I’ll start doing. Heck, I might even start living.”
“Died with his music still inside while trying to figure out the perfect first note”
Not the kind of epitaph I’d like to read on my tombstone.
Do you know the general direction of where you’d like your life to be headed? Then start walking that way now. I promise you’ll figure everything else out on the way.
Case in point: This thing you’re reading
If I hadn’t made the (hard) choice to go Fire, Ready, Aim on this site*, I’d still be busy brainstorming, branding, designing, debugging…and a hundred other things needed to make a perfect-by-the-book-project.
I would have been Acting on it, sure. But the end result would still be somewhere in the future. Instead, you are here, reading this. Thanks for that, by the way :-)
All due to the grace and beauty of agile methodology — after each sprint forward, you refine your aim, balancing the desired outcome with shifting priorities.
Agile puts heavy-duty productivity principles and efficiency hacks to work
Agile uses time constraints and other simple rules to speed up iterations, resulting in steep learning and optimization curves. If you really want the theory now and here, there’s plenty to google — I’ve got two dogs waiting to take me for a walk. The crucial part (the one that upgrades life) isn’t the theory. It is what comes now:
Get their combined benefits the easy way: Apply Agile. Fire! You’re ready!
Would you like to maximise the likelihood that this won’t be just a thing you read once?
What if it could trigger insight, cause a shift and Get Things Done in the real world?
Here’s the approach that’s worked best for me and my clients:
- What project or idea of yours would most benefit from treating it to “Fire, Ready, Aim.”?
Bonus: Pick the one that scares you the most :-)
- As your first step toward making it real, head over to J.D. Meier’s excellent 7-Day-Course (free, no registration). He’s the Godfather of Agile applied to personal productivity.
- Do it NOW, or you won’t do it at all. I’ll be happy if you prove me wrong, though.
- Complete the first TWO lessons. Day 1 is just a quick bit of reading, Day 2 is where you get to apply the first bit of agile logic to your project.
The course starts with a Sunday, but please go ahead even if it’s the middle of the week. Just be agile (bad pun intended) and plan your wins for whatever you can do within the rest of the week.
- Choose to commit to the 7-Day-Course, using it to drive your chosen project forward.
- Make it a point to review your initial results after those seven days. Take it from there.
- Please share your experience — I’d love to learn what did or didn’t work for you.
Additional suggestions for acting on it:
- JD’s 30-Day-Course goes even deeper, done in minutes per day. His book is awesome, as well — but please DO the courses first. Then, if you want more, get the book.
- Experience the power of scrum as real insight instead of theory: Choose a training game, get some people (and maybe even a Scrum Master ;-)) together, and play with them.
*Between the choice to finally start sharing my stuff and actually going live, only a few hours passed, thanks to Fire, Ready, Aim. This here was the first post (of course ;-)).
Shortly afterwards, I decided to switch platforms, and was getting lost in the technical details for a day or three — acting on it, but not really moving forward — when I remembered what I’d written here…
Bonus Links for “Fire, Ready, Aim”:
Bonus Links for “Act on It”: