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I recently read Gary Keller’s book, The One Thing. I generally like this book.

He focuses on asking “What is the one thing that is most important now?” This is rather like an iteration planning meeting.

He includes some good visualization so like, “find the lead domino and whack away until it falls” over starting the chain reaction. His description of the domino effect principle ties nicely with the Lean principle of one-piece flow and limiting work in-progress (WIP) to increase any process cycle time. the 80-20 principle also fits nicely with Gary’s main ideas. The Pareto principle says that 80% of the results are often from 20% of the efforts.

Gary’s concept of our passion leading to disproportionate time practicing or working at it, which eventually translates to skill, when improved leads to better results, which lead to more enjoyment and passion, repeating was nicely demonstrated in the movie “The 100 Foot Journey” with the Indian cook becoming a chef as he studied and practiced much to get better.

If you’re applying Agile Lean personally, then having a prioritized backlog of to do work items facilitates pulling the next highest priority as we work in iterations.

The One Thing also addresses working iteratively when he says that success is “a short race, choosing the right habit, and then a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over at 66 days.” So if we work in iterations we can build a supporting set of habits by accretion that bring success patterns powered by habits, where prolonged will power is more difficult to maintain.

Gary’s idea to alternate zooming in and out between big picture “macro, and small focus micro is kind of similar to finishing an iteration backlog (micro), and then going back to the product backlog (macro) to be sure you’re addressing the highest priority work items. Each iteration we zoom out to plan, and the. zoom in to execute.

Gary talks about categorizing great answers to the question using three categories: 1. Doable, 2. Stretch, and 3. Possible.

Agile risk management suggests starting with the hardest work item first. So using Gary’s conceptual perspective, start with the possible or stretch. Stretch means within your reach at the farthest end of your range. It is potentially achievable. Possibility is “at the outer limits of achievement”, beyond what is already known and being done.

Gary’s book is a short quick read. Get it.

For more on agile, see Jeff Sutherland’s book, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, September 30, 2014. it is a great non technical read for people not familiar with agile software development methods.

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KW Lanham


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