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Trends for 2016

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 17:08

Our world is changing faster than ever before.  It can be tough to keep up.  And what you don’t know, can sometimes hurt you.

Especially if you get disrupted.

If you want to be a better disruptor vs. be the disrupted, it helps to know what’s going on around the world.  There are amazing people, amazing companies, and amazing discoveries changing the world every day.  Or at least giving it their best shot.

  • You know the Mega-Trends: Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data.
  • You know the Nexus-Of-Forces, where the Mega-Trends (Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data) converge around business scenarios.
  • You know the Mega-Trend of Mega-Trends:  Internet-Of-Things (IoT)

But do you know how Virtual Reality is changing the game? …

Disruption is Everywhere

Are you aware of how the breadth and depth of diversity is changing our interactions with the world?  Do you know how “bi-modal” or “dual-speed IT” are really taking shape in the 3rd Era of IT or the 4th Industrial Revolution?

Do you know what you can print now with 3D printers? (and have you seen the 3D printed car that can actually drive? … and did you know we have a new land speed record with the help of the Cloud, IoT, and analytics? … and have you seen what driverless cars are up to?)

And what about all of the innovation that’s happening in and around cities? (and maybe a city near you.)

And what’s going on in banking, healthcare, retail, and just about every industry around the world?

Trends for Digital Business Transformation in a Mobile-First, Cloud-First World

Yes, the world is changing, and it’s changing fast.  But there are patterns.  I did my yearly trends post to capture and share some of these trends and insights:

Trends for 2016: The Year of the Bold

Let me warn you now – it’s epic.  It’s not a trivial little blog post of key trends for 2016.  It’s a mega-post, packed full with the ideas, terms, and concepts that are shaping Digital Transformation as we know it.

Even if you just scan the post, you will likely find something you haven’t seen or heard of before.  It’s a bird’s-eye view of many of the big ideas that are changing software and the tech industry as well as what’s changing other industries, and the world around us.

If you are in the game of Digital Business Transformation, you need to know the vocabulary and the big ideas that are influencing the CEOs, CIOs, CDOs (Chief Digital Officers), COOs, CFOs, CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers), CINOs (Chief Innovation Officers), and the business leaders that are funding and driving decisions as they make their Digital Business Transformations and learn how to adapt for our Mobile-First, Cloud-First world.

If you want to be a disruptor, Trends for 2016: The Year of the Bold is a fast way to learn the building blocks of next-generation business in a Digital Economy in a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world.

10 Key Trends for 2016

Here are the 10 key trends at a glance from Trends for 2016: The Year of the Bold to get you started:

  1. Age of the Customer
  2. Beyond Smart Cities
  3. City Innovation
  4. Context is King
  5. Culture is the Critical Path
  6. Cybersecurity
  7. Diversity Finds New Frontiers
  8. Reputation Capital
  9. Smarter Homes
  10. Virtual Reality Gets Real

Perhaps the most interesting trend is how culture is making or breaking companies, and cities, as they transition to a new era of work and life.  It’s a particularly interesting trend because it’s like a mega-trend.  It’s the people and process part that goes along with the technology.  As many people are learning, Digital Transformation is a cultural shift, not a technology problem.

Get ready for an epic ride and read Trends for 2016: The Year of the Bold.

If you read nothing else, at least read the section up front titled, “The Year of the Bold” to get a quick taste of some of the amazing things happening to change the globe. 

Who knows maybe we’ll team up on tackling some of the Global Goals and put a small dent in the universe.

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Start with Needs and Wants

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 18:18

“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” – Peter Drucker

So many people start with solutions, and then wonder where the customers are.

It’s the proverbial, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

The truth is, if all you have is a hammer, then get better at finding nails.  And while you are looking for those nails, get better at expanding your toolbox.

If you want to be a better Entrepreneur or a trend hunter or a product manager or a visionary leader, then start with needs and wants.  It will help you quickly cut through the overwhelm and overload of ideas, trends, and insights to get to the ideas that matter.

Some say the most valuable thing in the world is ideas.  Many others say that coming up with ideas is not the problem.  The problem is execution.  The truth here is that so many ideas fail because they didn’t create a customer or raving fans.  They didn’t address relevant pains, needs, and desired outcomes.  Instead, they solve problems that nobody has or create things that nobody wants (unless it’s free), besides the creator, and that’s how you end up in the mad scientist syndrome.  Or, ideas die because they were not presented in a way that speaks to the needs and wants, and so you end up a brilliant, misunderstood genius.

Start Viewing the World Through the Lens of Human Needs and Wants

Here is some good insight and timeless truths on how to find trends that matter and how to create ideas that do, too from the 5 Trends for 2016 report by

Via 5 Trends for 2016:

“Trends emerge as innovators address consumers’ basic needs and wants in novel ways.
As trend watchers, that’s why we look for clusters of innovations which are defining (and redefining) customer expectations.

Start by asking why customers might embrace you using a channel. Next, challenge whether existing channels really satisfy the deep needs and wants of your customers. Could you create any new ones? Finally, imagine entirely new contexts you could leverage (perhaps even those that customers aren’t yet consciously aware of).

As long as the onslaught of technological change continues, we’ll keep shouting this mantra from the rooftops: stop viewing the world through the lens of technology, and start viewing technology through the lens of basic human needs and wants.

Put another way: all those tech trends you’re obsessed with are fine, but can you use them to deliver something people actually want?”

Start with Scenarios to Validate Customer Pains, Needs, and Desired Outcomes

A scenario is simply a story told from the customer's point of view that explains their situation and what they want to achieve.

They are a great tool for validating ideas, capturing ideas, and sharing ideas.  What makes them so powerful is that they are a story told in the Voice-of-the-Customer (VOC).  The Current State story captures the pains and needs.  The Desired Future State captures the vision of the desired outcomes.  Here is an example:

Current State
As a product manager, I'm struggling to keep up with changing customer behavior and band perception is eroding.  Competition from new market entrants is creating additional challenges as we face new innovations, lower prices, and better overall customer experiences.

Desired Future State
By tapping into the vast amounts of information from social media, we gain deep customer insight.  We find new opportunities to better understand customer preferences and perceptions of the brand.  We combine social data with internal market data to gain deeper insights into brand awareness and profitable customer segments.  Employees are better able to share ideas, connect with each other, connect with customers, and connect with partners to bring new ideas to market.  We are able to pair up with the key influencers in social media to help reshape the story and perception of our brand.

Customer Wants and Needs are the Breeding Ground of Innovation

Makes total sense right?   But how often do you see anybody ever do this?  That’s the real gap.

Instead, we see hammers not even looking for nails, but trying to sell hammers.

But maybe people want drills?  No, they don’t want to by drills or drill-bits.  They want to buy holes.  And when you create that kind of clarity, you start to get resourceful and you can create ideas and solutions in a way that’s connected to what actually counts.

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Agile Results for 2016

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 17:54

Agile Results is the personal productivity system for high-performance.

Agile Results is a “whole person” approach to personal productivity. It combines proven practices for mind, body, and emotions. It helps you realize your potential the agile way.  Best of all, it helps you make the most of what you’ve got to achieve higher levels of performance with less time, less effort, and more impact.

Agile Results helps you achieve rapid results by focusing on outcomes over activities, spending more time in your strengths, focusing on high-value activities, and using your best energy for your best results.

If you want to use Agile Results, it’s simple. I’ll show you how to get started, right, here, right now. If you already know Agile Results, then this will simply be a refresher.

Write Three Things Down

The way to get started with Agile Results is simple. Write three things down that you want to achieve today. Just ask yourself, “What are your Three Wins that you want to achieve today?”

For me, today, I want to achieve the following:

  1. I want to get agreement on a shared model across a few of our teams.
  2. I want to create a prototype for business model innovation.
  3. I want to create a distilled view of CEO concerns for a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world.

In my mind, I might just remember: shared model, business model innovation, and CEO. I’ll be focused on the outcomes, which are effectively agreement on a model, innovation in business models for a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world, and a clear representation of top CEO pains, needs, and desired outcomes.

Even if I throw away what I write down, or lose it, the value is in the brief moment I spent to prioritize and visualize the results that I want to achieve. 

This little vision will stick with me as a guide throughout my day.

Think in Three Wins

Writing these three items down, helps me focus. It helps me prioritize based on value. It also helps me create a simple vision for my day.

Plus, thinking in Three Wins adds the fun factor.

And, better yet, if somebody asks me tomorrow what my Three Wins were for yesterday, I should be able to tell a story that goes like this: I created rapport and a shared view with our partner teams, I created a working information model for business model innovation for a mobile-first cloud-first world, and I created a simplified view of the key priorities for CEOs in a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world.

When you can articulate the value you create, to yourself and others, it helps provide a sense of progress, and a story of impact.  Progress is actually one of the keys to workplace happiness, and even happiness in life.

In a very pragmatic way, by practicing your Three Wins, you are practicing how to identify and create value.  You are learning what is actually valued, by yourself and others, by the system that you are in.

And value is the ultimate short-cut.  Once you know what value is, you can shave off a lot of waste.

The big idea here is that it’s not your laundry list of To-Dos, activities, and reminders -- it’s your Three Wins or Three Outcomes or Three Results.

Use Your Best Energy for Your Best Results

Some people wonder why only Three Wins?  There is a lot of science behind the Rule of 3, but I find it better to look at how the Rule of 3 has stood the test of time.  The military uses it.  Marketing uses it.  You probably find yourself using it when you chunk things up into threes.

But don’t I have a bazillion things to do?

Yes. But can I do a bazillion things today? No. But what I can do is spend my best energy, on the best things, my best way.

That’s the best I can do.

But that’s actually a lot. When you focus on high-value outcomes and you really focus your time, attention, and energy on those high-value outcomes, you achieve a lot. And you learn a lot.

Will I get distracted? Sure. But I’ll use my Three Wins to get back on track.

Will I get randomized and will new things land on my plate? Of course, it’s the real-world. But I have Three Wins top of mind that I can prioritize against. I can see if I’m trading up for higher-value, higher-priorities, or if I’m simply getting randomized and focusing on lower-value distractions.

Will I still have a laundry list of To-Do items? I will. But, at the top of that list, I’ll have Three Wins that are my “tests for success” for the day, that I can keep going back to, and that will help me prioritize my list of actions, reminders, and To-Dos.

20-Minute Sprints

I’ll use 20-Minute Sprints to achieve most of my results. It will help me make meaningful progress on things, keep a fast pace, stay engaged with what I’m working on, and to use my best energy.

Whether it’s an ultradian rhythms, or just a natural breaking point, 20-Minute Sprints help with focus.

We aren’t very good at focusing if we need to focus “until we are done.” But we are a lot better at focusing if we have a finish line in site. Plus, with what I’m learning about vision, I wonder if spending more than 20-Minutes is where we start to fatigue our eye muscles, and don’t even know it.

Note that I primarily talk about 20-Minute Sprints as timeboxing, after all, that’s what it is, but I think it’s more helpful to use a specific number. I remember that 40-Hour Work Week was a good practice from Extreme Programming before it became Sustainable Pace. Once it became Sustainable Pace, then teams started doing the 70 or 80 hour work week, which is not only ineffective, it does more harm than good.

Net net – start with 20-Minute Sprints. If you find another timebox works better for you, than by all means use it, but there does seem to be something special about 20-Minute Sprints for paving your work through work.

If you’re wondering, what if you can’t complete your task in a 20-Minute Sprint? You do another sprint.

All the 20-Minute Sprint does is give you a simple timebox to focus and prioritize your time, attention, and energy, as well as to remind you to take brain breaks. And, the 20-Minute deadline also helps you sustain a faster pace (more like a “sprint” vs. a “job” or “walk”).

Just Start

I could say so much more, but I’d rather you just start doing Agile Results.

Go ahead and take a moment to think about your Three Wins for today, and go ahead and write them down.

Teach a friend, family member, or colleague Agile Results.  Spread the word.

Help more people bring out their best, even in their toughest situations.

A little clarity creates a lot of courage, and that goes a long when it comes to making big impact.

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Productivity Power Magazine

Mon, 01/18/2016 - 19:27


"Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before." -- Franz Kafka

One of my experiments over the weekend was to do a fast roundup of my productivity articles.

Here it is -- Productivity Power Magazine:

Productivity Power Magazine

I wanted to create a profound knowledge base of principles, patterns, and practices for productivity.  I also wanted to make it fast, really fast, to be able to go through all of my productivity articles that I’ve created for Sources of Insight and on MSDN. 

I also wanted it to be more visual, I wanted thumbnails of each articles, so that I could flip through very quickly.

After looking at a few options, I tried Flipboard.  It’s a simple way to create personal magazines, and world class publications like The New York Times, PEOPLE Magazine, Fast Company and Vanity Fair use Flipboard.

Productivity Power Magazine (A Flipboard Experiment)

Here is my first Flipboard experiment to create Productivity Power Magazine:

Productivity Power Magazine

I think you’ll find Productivity Power Magazine a very fast way to go through all of my productivity articles.  You get to see everything and a glance, scroll through a visual list, and then dive into the ones you want to read.  If you care about productivity, this might be your productivity paradise.

Note that I take a “whole person” approach to productivity, with a focus on well-being.  I draw from positive psychology, sports psychology, project management practices, and a wide variety of sources to help you achieve high-performance.  Ultimately, it’s a patterns and practices approach to productivity to help you think, feel, and do your best, while enjoying the journey.

Some Challenges with Productivity Power Magazine

Flipboard is a fast way to roundup and share articles for a theme.

I do like Flipboard.  I did run into some issues though while creating my Productivity Power Magazine: 1)  I wasn’t able to figure out how to create a simpler URL for the landing page, 2)  I wasn’t able to swap out images if I didn’t like what was in the original article 3) I couldn’t add an image if the article was missing one, 4) I couldn’t easily re-sequence the flow of articles in the magazine, and 5) I can’t get my editorial comments to appear.  It seems like all of my write ups are in the tool, but don’t show on the page.

That said, I don’t know a faster, simpler, better way to create a catalog of all of my productivity articles at a glance.  What’s nice is that I can go across multiple sources, so it’s a powerful way to round up articles and package them for a specific theme, such as productivity in this case.

I can also see how I can use Flilpboard for doing research on the Web, alone or with a team of people, since you can invite people to contribute to your Flipboard.   You can also make Flipboards private, so you can choose which ones you share.

Take Productivity Power Magazine for a spin and let me know how it goes.

Categories: Blogs

How To Stay Motivated for 2016 with a Vision Board

Mon, 01/11/2016 - 18:15
"Big thinking precedes great achievement." -- Wilferd Peterson

The way to stay motivated for 2016 is to begin with your end in mind.

Keep in mind that your end in mind is dynamic, and it will change as you change, but it's still a great place to start.

A simple way to visualize your end in mind is to create a Vision Board.  Here is an example of my Vision Board for 2016:

Vision Board for 2016

Here is the process I used to create an empowering Vision Board:

How To Create an Empowering Vision Board

The main idea of a Vision Board is to capture your big ideas in terms of your hopes, dreams, future habits, and your ideal life.  It’s a collage of images that reflect what you want your ideal future state to be.

Prime Your Mind for 2016 with a  Vision Board

The power of a Vision Board is really to prime your mind for success.   When you know what you want, you activate your Reticular Activating System (RAS).  Your RAS helps you notice things around you that are relevant (such as when you get a new blue car, suddenly you notice how many people have a blue car.)  When you know what you want, you also get more resourceful.  But more importantly, when you know what you want, other people can help you because you are clear on what you want to achieve.

It’s really hard to help somebody get what they want when they don’t know what it is.

When you have clarity in what you want, you create focus.  When you focus, you prioritize.  When you prioritize, it helps you stay motivated, but your future picture helps you inspire yourself from the inside out.

I think we all tend to walk around with some little pictures of our future self, maybe as a fuzzy idea, or maybe little scenes from the future, or maybe more like a daydream.   But you can bring that future into focus by creating a simple collage of inspiring images that paint a picture of the future that you want to make happen.

Create a Vision “Page”

While I set out to create a Vision Board, I actually ended up creating what I’ll call a Vision Page.  I figured that a page on the Web would be available to me whenever or wherever I needed it.

After reviewing a few options, I ended up creating my Vision Board for 2016 using Pinterest.

It was simple and straightforward.  All I had to do was create a new board and then add Pins to my board that reflect my dreams, goals, habits, and aspirations.  It was actually a fun process trying to find the right image to capture the right idea.

Draw from People, Books, Quotes, and Affirmations

To create my Vision Page, I looked for inspiring people, as well as inspiring books, quotes, and affirmations.   On the people side, I thought of people that reflect some of the attributes I’d like to have more of.  For example, imagine if I could solve problems like Tony Robbins or be creative like da Vinci or think better like Edward de Bono.

For books, I thought about how some books encapsulate really important ideas.  For example, In Eat to Win, Dr. Furhman focuses on eating the nutritarian way.   In all of his research and in medical outcome studies, Dr. Furhman found that nutritional density and focusing on nutritional excellence is the key to vibrant and radiant health.  In How To Have a Beautiful Mind, Edward de Bono focuses on creating curiosity, insight, and making things interesting through the power of perspective and by asking better questions.

For quotes, I have several quote collections you can draw from in the Great Quotes Collection, including Confidence Quotes, Happiness Quotes, Inspirational Quotes, Motivational Quotes, Personal Development Quotes,  and Productivity Quotes.

For affirmations, I had to rethink my limiting beliefs about affirmations.  For me, affirmations were always foo-foo, and I hated the examples that I found.  In my experience, all the affirmations I saw long ago use words I would never say in a way that I would never say them.  They seemed inauthentic.  Worse, the people that I knew that used affirmations weren’t every effective.  It seemed like they were reading spells from a magic book and didn’t even really believe what they were saying. 

It was more like saying some magic word phrases and hoping they would suddenly become awesome.

But then I thought about affirmations differently.  I realized that they can be a great way to intentionally change your thoughts, especially if you have thought patterns that don’t work for you.  Affirmations, just like quotes, can be simple little mantra for the mind.   But the key is that you have to find affirmations that work for you, and you have to word them in a way that’s simple, sticky, and meaningful for you.

I share some sample affirmations in How To Create an Empowering Vision Board but here are a couple of examples.  I can replace, “This sucks” with "I see my challenges as opportunities to learn and grow."  I can remind myself “I let go of worries that drain my energy.”  My personal favorite is a remind of self-reliance: "If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me."

Choose and create affirmations that remind and inspire you as you answer the question “Who do you want to be and what experiences do you want to create?”

Build Your Vision Board with Skill

If you want to stay motivated for 2016, then create your own Vision Board or Vision Page.  You can get started in just a few minutes, and if you really embrace it, your Vision Board can serve you throughout the year.  It will act as a reminder of what you want, but it can also help you get clarity and insight into the attributes and characteristics that you want to develop as part of your personal growth.

Your motivation will be a direct reflection of your ability to find the most inspiring images that pull your forward.

Don’t over-engineer it.  Keep it simple and make it easy to update.   For me, I just quickly found pages I could “Pin” and then I added a one-liner reminder of the key idea.  For example, I found an image of a Navy Seals team working out, and I added the note “Fit like a Navy Seal.”

Also, remember that it’s your future, ideal life.  Don’t let limiting beliefs or small thinking get in your way.  Dream big and make it a collage of the people, quotes, habits, goals, and ideas that inspire you.

Lastly, remember that motivation follows action.  So take some action and your motivation will follow.  The best way to take action is to just start.  If you get going with your Vision Board, chances are you’ll surprise yourself with some fresh thinking and some big bold ideas, and these will carry you forward for 2016.

And, if not, remember the famous saying by Mary Anne Radmacher:

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”


Categories: Blogs

Prime Your Mind for 2016

Sat, 01/02/2016 - 23:21

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” -- Louis Pasteur

The future is either created or destroyed by the decisions we make and the actions we take.

It's 2016 and change is in the air.

For some people, this time of year is their favorite. It's a time of year filled with hope, possibility, and dreams. 

For others, this is a horrible time of year, filled with despair, shattered dreams, and bitter disappointment.

Either way, let's get a fresh start, as we turn the page for a new year.

Let's give ourselves permission to dream big, and re-imagine what this next year could be all about.

Prime Your Mind to Empower Yourself and Your Business for an Amazing 2016

If you don't know what priming is, it's a psychology concept that basically means we embody the concepts and stereotypes we're exposed to.  For example, if we see the color yellow, we find the word banana faster.

You can use priming in a very pragmatic way to inspire your way forward.  Rather than hold on to old beliefs, mental models, and references, you can fill your mind with examples and ideas for new possibilities.

I've written a fairly exhaustive approach to how you can prime your mind for 2016:

Prime Your Mind for 2016

But I'll summarize some key ideas in this post so you can get started stirring up your big bold ambitions for the new year.

3 Key Ideas to Prime Your Mind with for 2016

The big ideas really come down to this:

  1. People examples of transformation. Fill your head with examples of how people have created amazing personal transformation.  TED Talks are a great source of inspiration and examples of how people have transformed themselves, and in many cases, how they are helping transform the world around them.
  2. Technology examples of transformation.   Fill your head with examples of how the mega-trends are shaping the world through Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data.  Fill your mind with examples of how the mega-trends are coming together in a “Nexus of Forces” as Gartner would say, to change the world.  Fill your mind with examples of the mega-trend of mega-trends – the Internet of Things – is re-shaping the world, in extraordinary ways.  Read Future Visions, a free download by Microsoft, to get a glimpse into how science fiction could shape the science around us.
  3. Business examples of transformation.   Fill your head with examples of amazing examples of how businesses are driving digital business transformation.  Read NEXT at Microsoft to see some of the crazy things Microsoft is up to.  Read customer stories of transformation to see what Microsoft customers are up to.  Explore what sorts of things customers are up to on the Industry Solutions page.   For some truly phenomenal stories of digital transformation, check out what Microsoft UK is up to in education, business, and society.
Your Personal Preparation for 2016

Here is a quick way you can use books to help you prepare for the world around you:

  • Read a book like Leading Digital to get the overview of how digital transformation works.  You can see how companies like Starbucks and Burberry drove their digital transformation and you can learn the success patterns of business leaders who are leading and learning how to create customers and create new value in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.
  • Read books like Consumption Economics to fully grasp how value creation is throttled by value absorption – the ability of users and consumers to use the value that businesses can now create in a digital economy. 
  • Read books like B4b to see how companies are shifting to business outcomes for customers and helping customer achieve new levels of value from their technology investments. 
  • Read books like the Challenger Sale to learn how to go from somebody who pushes solutions to somebody who becomes a trusted advisor for their client and learns how to 1) teach, 2) tailor, and 3) take control.   Teaching is all about knowing your stuff and being able to help people see the art of the possible and sharing new ideas.  Tailoring is all about making ideas relevant.  It means you need to really understand a client’s pains, needs, and desired outcomes so that whatever comes out of your mouth, speaks to that.  Taking control means asking the right questions that drive conversations, strategies, and execution forward in an empowering way.
  • Read books like The Lean Startup to learn how to create and launch products, while making better, faster business decisions.   Learn how to innovate using principles from lean manufacturing and agile development to ship better, and win more raving fans.
  • Read books like Scaling Up to master the four key decision areas: people, strategy, execution, and cash, to create a company where the team is engaged, customers are doing your marketing, and everyone is making impact.  It includes one-page tools including a One-Page Strategic Plan and the Rockefeller Habits Checklist.
  • Read books like The Business Model Navigator to learn how businesses are re-imaging their business models for a mobile-first, cloud-first world.
  • Read books like Anticipate to put it all together and become a more visionary leader and build some mad skills to survive and thrive in the digital economy.
  • Read a book like Getting Results the Agile Way to help you master productivity, time management, and work-life balance.

Best wishes for a 2016 where you create and live the change you want to see.

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The Best Books I Read in 2015

Thu, 12/31/2015 - 20:56

Back by popular demand, here is my Best Books I Read, 2015 edition:

The Best Books I Read in 2015

As you may know, I read a lot of books.  I find it’s the best way to keep up and get ahead at Microsoft. 

I don’t just read technical books.  I read a wide variety of books, including mind, body, emotions, career, finance, relationships, and fun.

The common theme across the board is how to hack a better you.

I find that the more I learn across the board, the easier it gets to improve productivity, personal effectiveness, and impact at work.  And the bonus is that this spills into life.

This year, I spent extra effort on more health hacking.  We’re up against some pretty bad odds … 1 in 3 people die of cancer, but it used to be 1 in 80.  I in 4 get diabetes, but it used to be 1 in 4,000.  The good news is that there is some tremendous insight if you know the right books.

I also spent some extra energy focused on disruptive  innovation and digital transformation.  Again, some things can seem like magic until you know how the magic is done.  All of the magic tricks are revealed if you know the right books to read.

The Best Books I Read in 2015 is effectively the short-list from the very long list of books that I read in 2015.  Reading has always been one of the best ways for me to learn new ideas and new things to try.  I continue my quest for the world’s best insight and action for work and life, and I hope that some of the books I’ve included in my list turn out to be game changers for you.


Categories: Blogs

Agile Results for Year-End Reflection

Fri, 12/18/2015 - 18:14

If you use Agile Results, from Getting Results the Agile Way, as your productivity system, you already know that the key to the system is using The Rule of Three:

  • Three Wins for Your Day
  • Three Wins for Your Week
  • Three Wins for Your Month
  • Three Wins for Your Year

This helps you prioritize outcomes and meaningful achievements, so that you can see the forest for the trees and avoid getting lost in the minutia and the chaos.

It also helps you plan “just enough” and adapt as you go, while still having clarity around what counts, and figuring out what’s valued, and most importantly, giving you a better way to articulate the value you create, and tell a simple story around your personal victories.

But the Three Wins for Your Year idea doesn’t always sync in.  Not at first.

It doesn’t really sync in or hit you until you get to the end of the year, and as you get ready to turn the page, you ask yourself:

“How did I do against my Three Wins for the Year?”

Here’s how that might go …

  • For some of you, the answer will be that you didn’t even set any goals, so you don’t have any wins.   If you went with the flow, and the flow went well, great.   For some people it did.  For some people, that flow was not a river.  It was a waterfall.
  • For some of you, the answer will be that you remember setting Three Wins for the Year earlier this year, but you don’t remember what they were. 
  • For some of you, the answer will be that you made progress on some of your Three Wins for the Year.  Progress is a powerful thing (in fact, for many people it’s actually the key to their happiness and they control it.)
  • For some of you, the answer will be that you nailed your Three Wins for the Year.  Maybe you lucked into them.  Or maybe you achieved them without even realizing it.  Or maybe you intentionally invested in them, and your effort paid off.

In each case, you learned something. And now you can feel something:

If you nailed your Three Wins for the Year, congratulations – hats off to you! What a great way to close out the year with your Three Wins for the Year under your belt.

If you didn’t nail your Three Wins for the Year, use this moment to figure out what you can do differently. Do you need to put them in a more visible place so that you keep them top of mind? Do you need to add blocks of time to your calendar so that you actually work towards your wins? Do you need to pair up with somebody so you can learn from them and get over any humps or hurdles?

Remember that these are YOUR wins.

They are for you. They are your victories. They are things that YOU want to achieve. Your Three Wins for the Year should inspire you and “pull” you forward throughout the year. Maybe they are bold ambitions. Maybe they are just challenging enough to help you reach your next level. Maybe they are simply things you need to work on so feel it was a year well spent.

Just by reflecting on your Three Wins for the Year, you should gain a lot of insight into what you need to work on, and now you should really, really appreciate with full empathy how simple, but how powerful it is to identify Three Wins for the Year, each year.

The real twist is this: it’s to identify what you really, really WANT this year. In fact, the simplest way I figure out my Three Wins is to ask myself, “If I were a genie, what three wishes would I grant myself?” Surprisingly, it’s almost always something that I could achieve within the year, if I focus and invest in achieving it.

I use the “Genie in a Bottle” test, because sometimes it can be really, really hard to drop all the filters of what I *should* want, or what other people want for me, or too mired in myopic things that are too immediate, which will already take care of themselves. This simple test reminds me to take a step back, and without over-thinking it, get a good handle on some things that might motivate or inspire me so that I go into the year, looking forward to things that I’d like to achieve. Your wishes can pull you forward, as you turn your dreams into reality.

One of the best gifts you can give yourself, is the gift of three wishes for this year.

Go for it.

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