Getting Results the Agile Way by J.D. Meier: Summary

June 3, 2020


What it's about?

This book will challenge how you think about work and life. It has completely changed how I view productivity. The system has been enormously beneficial to me producing more quality outcomes focused work.

Learn how to adjust your sails to the winds and tides and sail wherever it is you want to go with your life. Rethink your goals. Rather than a static set of dreams and ideals, test your results along the way and carve out the path that works for you.

If you have motivation without technique, you’re just a motivated idiot. If you have great technique, but no motivation, you won’t accomplish anything. But if you have motivation and technique, you can produce great results.

Develop a system to 'dump your state' at the end of the work day. Mine is to write down whatever I was working on so that I can easily pick up where they left off.  I also hang my hat at the end of the day, simply visualize a tree in front of my house, I hang my hat up on that tree before you go inside. I then pick the hat up the next day.

Always have a bias for action. Don’t wait for inspiration. Motivation follows action.

Choosing your mindset and metaphors is one of the most powerful things you can do to shape your everyday experience, and ultimately your life. You can either mope around like Eeyore or spring through life like Tigger.

Don’t keep trying to fix your weaknesses, play to your strengths instead.

You can use the future to imagine exciting possibilities - I used to think things like photos of places you want to go or photo's of your heroes on your wall were corny but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It keeps me motivated and compels me to action.

If you know what you're trying to accomplish, you can prioritize more effectively.

Being good enough isn’t good enough. The people in your life can create or limit opportunities.

By anticipating change, and expecting it, you can treat change as an opportunity.

Do the hardest things or the things you dread the most first. It means you won’t dread them all day and you’ll do them when you're strong and fresh.

Make it work, then make it right - rather than try to perfect things as you go along, try to complete things first. Then go back and improve them.

You can use a backlog of tasks for good. By having a list of all your tasks, you have a place to put things, rather than having them float around in your head. Freeing your mind up for effective work.

Self-discipline is a muscle that gets stronger the more you flex it.

Self-discipline is often about trading away pleasure now (or even accepting some pain) for pleasing results later.

Motivation and self-discipline work hand in hand. Motivation can be your initial inspiration. Lose your initial inspiration and self-discipline keeps you going.

If you don’t feel like doing it, remind yourself that youmight feel like doing it once you’re actually doing it.

One of the best ways to learn is to teach (see the A Mind for Numbers).

Stop waiting for lightning to strike. Just start; don’t wait for inspiration to come. Can you imagine if athletes only trained when they were inspired?

The worst mistake is to throw more time at problems. The key is to reduce time spent, while increasing value and improving effectiveness and efficiency.

One of the most important things you can do is to fix time for eating, sleeping and working out. If you fix time for these three things and then work your day around these, you help set yourself up for success (see road work the Boron Letters).

If you schedule it, it happens. If you leave it to chance, you’ll have random success.

Reduce friction in your life as you reflect on what’s working and what’s not - for example, leave your sneakers by your bed so you can just get up and run first thing in the morning, or do a sweep of your desk before you get started each day. Take no more than 10 minutes but it will free you up mind and reduce friction to want to clean later, a common procrastination habit.

The Getting Results The Agile Way System Summary

This is my summary of the parts of Agile Results system that I found most useful.

The way I am using the system initially is to build the rule of 3 across my year, months, weeks and then I use the Monday Vision, Daily Outcome and Friday Reflection to drive my week.

While implementing the system also have a reference space - a single place to consolidate your ideas, notes, and results. I currently use notion and have a section called agile way random thoughts, notes and results.

The Rule of 3

Focus on 3 goals for the year, month, week, day and make them flow down for year down to the days. So the day goals fit the week goals etc. You can adjust as necessary the system isn’t fixed to what you set at the start of the year.

Having three outcomes is a way to set yourself up for success. If you’re accomplishing your results, then you know you’re on the right track—good job! If you’re not accomplishing your results, then you have to ask yourself whether you picked the right outcomes or if you need to improve your approach. As you practice each day, you get more effective.

It’s just enough planning so that you have a map for your week, but you stay flexible.

Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection

Monday Vision: Each week is a fresh start. On Mondays, you think about three outcomes you would like for the week. Each day you identify three outcomes you would like for the day.

Knowing where you want to be by the end of the week, helps you stay focused during the week.

Daily Outcomes: Write down or remember three of your most important outcomes for the day.

Challenge yourself to pick the three most valuable results that you can reasonably accomplish.

Rather than base your day on things you didn’t get done in the past, you base your day on what you want to accomplish and on what has the most impact or value for you at this point in time.

It helps to simply think in terms of MUST, SHOULD, and COULD. MUST is what you must get done, SHOULD would be nice, and COULD is just a pipe dream.

Friday Reflection: Friday is a great day to reflect back on your week.

Here are the key things to reflect on:

  • Evaluate what you accomplished, or didn't, and why.
  • Identify three things that went well.
  • Identify three things that need improvement.
  • Evaluate your energy levels - I write on a notepad during the week when I notice low energy and high energy
  • Carry your lessons forward to your next Monday Vision.

Summary Thoughts of the Agile Way System

Agile Results is a system for work and life. It’s an adaptable productivity system focused on outcomes over activities. It’s taking action towards compelling outcomes and producing incremental results. It’s being flexible and responsive to change.

It is not a checklist of things to do. It's not a way to do “more stuff” in your life. It's a way to balance what's important, respond to a changing world, live your values, and spend more time doing what you love, while improving your efficiency and effectiveness.

The key isn’t to have one big backlog of tasks you work through, instead think more about how you create value and what outcomes require you to do that. Some items on your backlog will never get done.

There's no one-size-fits-all, you need to be flexible and learn as you go, this system allows that.

You don't have to adopt Agile Results all at once; you can adopt the Agile Results practices incrementally.

Agile Results Productivity Notes Summary

Top five productivity pitfalls:

  1. Analysis paralysis
  2. Do it when you feel like it
  3. Don’t know the work to be done
  4. Lack of boundaries
  5. Perfectionism

If you don’t drive your calendar, your calendar drives you.

Batch your similar tasks together, this way you can move through them more effectively. For example, rather than a laundry list of tasks like mow the lawn, clear the bushes, rake the leaves, turn it into a scenario, such as “enjoy the yard.”

Results over productivity - productivity tends to be associated with “doing more.” Results tend to be associated with more meaning and significance.Therefore, focus more on results. Don’t just do more things for the sake of doing more.

Approach over results - if you focus on the scoreboard, you’re not focusing on your actions. You can’t control the events in your life, what you can control is your attitude and approach.

Efficiency and effectiveness - efficiency is doing things better. Effectiveness is doing the right things. The key is to be both effective and efficient. You get there by working first on effectiveness.

Mindset and motivation - the key to effective results is having a compelling “Why.” A compelling “Why” will also help pick you back up when you get knocked down.

Combat analysis paralysis - by thinking and then acting. Decide and go. You can analyze your results and change your approach, but don’t slow yourself down in the process.


Use Metaphors as a means of being productive and staying motivated.

Why use metaphors - It’s about language and the pictures we hold in our minds. Creating a vision and holding it in our heads will tend to steer us towards the emotions and feelings that we associate with such a picture.

Metaphors shape your experience - You’re the most important meaning maker. How you make meaning largely has to do with your self-talk, including the words you use and the pictures you paint. You can think of metaphors as emotional picture words. They can lift you up or bring you down.

How to use metaphors effectively:

  • Have a working set of metaphors. It’s important to have a reliable set that you can draw from. If you can’t figure out your own, ask your friends for some of theirs.
  • Pick your metaphors carefully. For better or worse, the metaphors you choose shape your experiences and your reactions.
  • Choose positive metaphors appropriate to the situation. Pay attention to feedback, your results, and change direction as needed.
  • Choose metaphors that inspire you or hold deep meaning. Metaphors are strongest when they are tied to your emotions.
  • Get rid of metaphors that aren’t working and find new ones. If you’re not getting closer to the feeling states you want, then change the metaphors you’re using.

Three Mindsets to Improve Your Life

  1. Abundance mindset - Abundance over scarcity - With an abundance mindset, you start with the assumption that there’s more space and more resources than what you might see by default. You find a way to create more opportunities. You expand solutions to be inclusive of your ideas as well as others.Rather than fight for resources, you find more.
  2. Positive mindset - over negativity. With a negative mindset, we quickly focus on what’s wrong with the situation, finding flaws at every turn. Don't stop using your critical thinking when evaluating ideas. Just find a way forward; avoid falling into a pattern of getting dragged down and stuck by your own pessimism.
  3. Growth mindset - over fixed mindset - A growth mindset is a learning mindset. It’s the belief that you can improve at whatever you do through the right training—it’s believing in yourself and your own potential.

Awesome Quotes Throughout the Book

These quotes were just too awesome not to share.

John F.Kennedy - Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own. —Bruce Lee

It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential. —Bruce Lee

A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at. —Bruce Lee

You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action. —Tony Robbins

The best way to predict the future is to create it. —Peter Drucker

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things. —Peter Drucker

You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger. —John C. Maxwell

Fall seven times. Stand up eight. —Japanese Proverb

The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret. —Nido Qubein

Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five. —Benjamin Franklin