Why eating soup with the fork?

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„If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.“
Abraham Maslow

Let us think about how you could boost your performance in your job or in your business. And I really mean it!

You will probably agree that you are really successful in your job if you can deliver measurable high value. The faster you deliver it, the better.

In order to deliver high value, you need the proper skills, the right environment and also the best tools and methods available.

And in case you don’t have a required skill, you can gather it by attending a training for example. Right?

However, in today’s fast paced world the required skills and tools are radically different than a couple of years ago. You must keep yourself up-to-date and that’s why you spend a significant amount of money every year for trainings and further education.

But here is the catch… there are soooooooo many tools, methods and frameworks out there and most of them you have never heard of, regardless how many trainings you attend. There will be always something else you might need to better perform. Does this sound familiar to you?

The good news is that you don’t have to know about all these tools. Because if it comes to high performance and productivity, there are a few fundamental activities which all these tools are built on.

And one more thing: what I’m going to show you is not new. Buzzwords come and go but the underlying ideas and principles are timeless. Today we called it Agile but the same principles were used already 4500 years ago when the pyramids were built.

So let’s start!

The ultimate Agile Tool-Box to systematically grow your business tell a friend

1.   Chunking or Breaking Down

The first secret is to break your big goal or target into many smaller steps that will gradually take you where you want to be – and focus on them. This is called chunking.

A key aspect of that is to work backwards from your end goal.

Example: If your goal is to run your own successful business, you need to think about what you need for that to happen. That may be a great product or service, an awesome marketing and customers to buy it. If so, you need to consider what you have to do to develop your service or product, where you will find your customers – and so on.

Each time you identify a smaller goal, check if that can be broken down into more mini goals. So, when you understand where you will find your customers, you will then work out what you need to do to reach them – and then how you will communicate your message to them, etc.

When you chunk your big goal into mini goals, make sure you represent them visually. Use for that either a mind map or better a story map.

I’ll talk about the story map and how you can use it in my FREE workshop. You can register right now and reserve your seat.

As soon as you have identified your mini goals, follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Make sure that your mini goals are small enough so that they can be achieved within one week. Otherwise break them down and make them smaller.
  2. Work in so called one-week sprints and make sure that by the end of the week your mini goal is reached.
  3. Define your strategies by asking yourself what can I do to reach that mini goal?
  4. Define the specific action items to support that strategy. These are your daily tasks.

With other words, a mini goal might contain several strategies and the corresponding action items.

Example: If we stick to our example with the successful business, one mini goal could be to create a mechanism which generates X new leads by end of June. Therefore, a strategy might be to write a series of guest articles and blog posts. Another strategy is to offer a free webinar to a specific topic.

If you decide to go with the free webinar strategy, it is time to think about the specific action items. Prepare the webinar content, build the whole tool chain, test everything etc. They represent the daily tasks.

2.   Planning

At this point you have a good picture of your goal and some of your mini goals. You don’t have to identify all of them. That would be a major waste of time.

Again, a mini goal is the outcome you want to achieve by the end of the week or sprint.

List down all the mini goals you have identified and add them in the TO DO column of your task board.

Use a prioritization technique like the Eisenhower Matrix or MoSCoW for example and decide which of your mini goals to start with.

Put the most important one in the “This Week” column.

Place the second most important in the “Next Week” column.

Put the next two important once in the “This Month” column.

Now you should have something like this:

The planning process consists of two steps:

  1. Plan the month: at the beginning of the month, make a rough monthly plan. It is very likely that this will change, as you move ahead towards your goal but this is fine.
  2. Plan the week: at the beginning of the week, plan the current week (“This Week”) and decide what should be the goal of the next week. This activity will help you to fill the both columns “This Week” and “Next Week”. As part of this step, break down the mini goals by identifying strategies and action items, as described earlier.

It might sound counter intuitive: boost your performance and on the other hand spend so much time on planning activities. However, this invested time is extremely valuable because you will have a laser sharp focus on the activities you have planned for that week.

Tip: Never plan your sprint 100 %. Leave room for unforeseen opportunities and activities, which you cannot plan in advance. Plan therefore 60% – 80% of the week, with a strong tendency to the lower value. In this way you allow the present moment to offer solutions and opportunities, which you can never anticipate. Be open for that gift (=present).

3. The Daily Synchronization/Planning meeting

Now you have a (mini) goal and you have a time line. The questions to be answered every morning are:

  1. What am I going to do today to reach my goal by the end of the sprint?
  2. What blockers or impediments are in my way? How can I solve them?

The trick is the following: always limit the tasks you are working on. Before starting a new one, make sure the one, which is in progress, has been completed. I strongly recommend you to avoid multitasking.

4. Weekly Review – what have I achieved?

 At the end of the week or at the end of a sprint have a look on what you have achieved.

Compare your mini goal, the way you have defined it with that what you have reached. Ideally, real value has been created for your customer by the end of your sprint. Even if it is not complete and if you do not deliver it yet to your customer, it is great if your customer is able to see the interim result.

Why?

Because the customer can provide you valuable feedback at this moment. And this feedback can be used in the next Planning session.

In addition to that it is a good idea to have a review session whenever you have reached an important milestone.

5. Inspect & Adapt

Your major goal is to boost your performance, right? You cannot achieve it if you do every day the same things. If you want better results, you have to learn from your mistakes, to conduct experiments and to continuously inspect and adapt.

Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

You want to have short feedback cycles so that you can deliver value fast, don’t you? The perfect instrument to initiate a process of continuous improvement is the retrospective.

The meaning of the word retrospective is looking back on or dealing with past events or situations. Learn from these events or situations and change or adapt the strategies. Improve!

The simplest retrospective consists in answering the following two questions:

  1. What went well?
  2. What can I improve?

Do two types of retrospectives in every sprint:

  • A short retrospective (10 – 15 min) at the end of the day. Decide what you can change or improve the next day.
  • A longer retrospective (ca. 60 min) at the end of the sprint. This one is extremely powerful as the main goal is to give you insights from the last sprints and to help you to decide how to adapt the course in the future.

Conclusion

Let’s be honest: on the one hand, you want to boost your performance because it makes you feel great. On the other hand, it is scary to see how much all these trainings and further education activities cost.

That’s why I’m planning to offer a FREE Webinar where I’m going to explain these key activities in detail. Properly understood and applied in a consequent way, they will help you to boost your performance.

Don’t wait and register now. I’ll notify you as soon as the workshop is available again.

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