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Finished an online pre-print draft version of Getting Results the Agile Way by J.D. Meier. This book discusses a system for accomplishing things that focuses on "results" rather than "tasks". The idea is that by explicitly defining and regularly revisiting your top three results for the year, month, day, and week, you can make better decisions about what tasks you should do from moment to moment.

The core pattern that Meier presents is the "Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection" pattern. Using this pattern, you focus your week by defining three results at the beginning of the week. Each day you define three results for that day. On Friday, you assess how well you did. You are free to change your key results for the day or week at any time, but you must do so intentionally.

This system has two key strengths. In systems that only focus on tasks, tasks can become stale without you knowing it. Setting goals daily and weekly allows you to keep your key results fresh.

The other strength of this system is that the weekly reflection encourages continual improvement. The reflection is more than just a time to see how many things you were able to check off. It is a time to determine which practices worked well or did not.

I have been using that pattern, and it is already helping me to be more effective. For example, I had one week where I had to be checking email frequently. I had another week where I did not. Now we all "know" that checking email frequently kills your productivity, but by choosing daily results and taking time to reflect on them I could really see the difference between the two weeks.

Thus, for me, the power of this system is that it forces me to regularly glance at the forest instead of focusing on the trees. Now, I honestly do not remember how much GTD emphasizes reflection, but I do know that what I got out of reading Allen's book was the lower level task management system. Sometime, I want to reread Allen's book and do a deeper comparison of the two systems. However, the aspects of the two systems that I currently use are wonderfully complementary. The way I use it, GTD helps me manage my input and answer the question "what could I do now?" Getting Results gives me a concrete way of answering the question "what should I do now?"

The online pre-release version of the book is very much a draft. Sometimes words were wrong or sentences were repeated with slight variations. Some chapters seemed completely superfluous, as if Meier wrote them but then integrated all of the material into other chapters. I know that he has actively been working on editing the book, but those edits are not getting back into the online version. If you are actually interested in this system, I would advise you to skim the draft and the supplementary materials online and wait for the final version before reading the whole thing.

As a final comment, I read this book using the web browser on my Kindle. I found it much more pleasant than reading a whole book online. I probably never would have read through the whole thing on a computer. However, reading a web book on the Kindle does have a couple of disadvantages over reading an actual eBook on the Kindle. First, since I am actively using the wireless, the battery drains more quickly; with daily reading, I had to recharge every few days instead of less than once a week like I normally do.

The Kindle broke each web page into multiple screens of data. Those were cached locally, so once your loaded a page, subsequent screens for that page loaded quickly. However, images were not cached locally, so pages with images loaded very slowly. Furthermore, images would not render at all if they were broken across screens, and you could not zoom in. Overall though, I think that the Kindle is still my tool of choice for reading long texts online.


Erika Rice Scherpelz

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May 2012


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