Agile Tools and Writing

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I wrote The Agile Project Manager. In the post I talked about some of the strategies and techniques I used to pull the book together including working with a vision, establishing a vision and mind mapping using values levels. I shared that it wasn’t just about writing, because I had started doing that, but without a framework or plan it really didn’t work. What I didn’t talk about where some of the tools specific to Agile Project Management I used to write the book. I talk about some of these tools in the book, but thought you would be interested in them here too.

Focus on Outcome(s)

What was key to the words that made their way out onto the pages was a clear vision. Rob Thomsett is passionate about working to understand a project’s outcome or vision through his O3 Model (Outcome, Outputs, Objectives). His view is ‘there can be only one’ – in that the project stakeholders and team must all be focused on the one vision or outcome. The one ‘Why’. Because if there are different ones, everyone’s focus will be different, resulting in varied definitions of success.

O3 Model The Agile Project ManagerWriting the book was the same but also a bit different. I did some work with Chris Brogan, who suggests you have two outcomes, one for you and one for your readers. This puzzled me a bit but fortunately Chris went on to explain (I did his Write your Book Already online course which was just what I needed to get my book going and I highly recommend it). Your own vision (for you) will be different from the vision you have for your readers. What you want for your readers cannot be the same as what you want for you.
I started with my readers. What do I want them to get from this? Well, it was information, it was sharing my passion in a way I hoped the information would be easily understood and also easy to apply. I wanted my readers to get results. Results in an area that they had most likely previously tried to but with no success. I wanted to generate more excitement in project management. After all, if The Apprentice can glamorise the role of the project manager, why not take that further? Because being a project manager, being a person responsible for change whether it be large or small, is a great job. See, I’m getting all excited just thinking about it now.
My goal for me? Well, you see I had not thought about it all until Chris posed the question in WYBA. I just wanted to write. I liked writing, I liked creating, and to be honest, a few of my friends told me I should write a book. I really wanted to write a book. But what did I WANT? What did I want for me? While I was quick to know what I wanted for my readers, this was harder. After a bit of pondering (and a few examples provided by Chris in his online course), I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to get my name out there as someone who not only knows Agile principles, but as someone who has had success applying them AND is passionate about helping others get the same results. I didn’t want to make a million dollars (although if I did, you would hear no complaints from me). The thought of the Best Seller List didn’t cross my mind (although, again, if it happened, that would not be a bad thing). I thought of Rob Thomsett’s O3 Model (Outcomes, Outputs and Objectives). In this model, you can only have one outcome, anything else that happens that would be great (but not essential) is a secondary outcome. So my primary outcome was getting my name out there. Other things (like millions of dollars, best seller list etc) were secondary, and not the outcomes I was focused on when writing.
This was like a breath of fresh air. Years of working with project sponsors to facilitate their outcomes paid off. The feeling of knowing the one thing I was shooting for made the thinking worthwhile. My outcome. My book’s outcome. The outcome for me.

Outputs come Next

Combining the outcome I was looking for for my readers and my outcome, I was able to set clear outputs. The chapter ideas came together quickly with the help of Values levels. Anything that was a ‘great idea’ but did not lead to my outcomes was quickly discarded. Anything that lead to the outcome was embraced and included. This allowed me to set clear objectives – activities that started with “To…” that defined what I was doing. Holding off on writing all the ‘doing’ things was a big stretch for me. As Project Managers we love to ‘do’! But doing is so much easier when you have a direction.

Take Action

That’s how I applied the O3 Model in a nutshell. In later posts I’ll expand on some other tools. In the meantime, if there are tools you would like me to talk through more, please comment below or send me an email. Like what you read? How about putting it into action? What is a goal you have been focusing on lately that needs work? Apply the principles above – set an outcome, decide your outputs, connect them to the outcome, then go ahead and do. And let me know how you go!
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About Emma Sharrock

Emma is the author of The Agile Project Manager: Thrive in Change with Agile. An experienced change leader, Emma is passionate about working with people to facilitate successful change. Emma utilises Agile techniques, coupled with the Agile mindset to coach leaders and teams to achieve their business goals.