Systematise for Success

People often ask me how I wrote The Agile Project Manager so quickly, and when I tell them “I made sure that I regularly sat down and wrote words”, they get that weird look in their eyes. The one that questions the simplicity of my strategy. And so I say “Oh, and I also enlisted my partner’s support and made sure that I was taking care of my other commitments”. Cue awkward shuffling. Sceptical eyebrow. It’s only lately that I have really understood how many people simply don’t “get” that it is the process that allows you to actualise your vision into tangible results. There is a huge piece that is missing for many, between vision and implementation. It’s the systems.

Systems in everyday life

So many people decide that they want to achieve a new goal, and they take an overhaul approach to implementing change. They write an exhaustive list of all the “To Dos”, then seek to simultaneously do them all. The sustainability of this kind of lifestyle is about 3 months before they find themselves exhausted and returning to old habits. That is because they have not taken the time to really implement systems to support the change.

These are the people who approach writing a book by immediately starting to plan out the plot without first exploring the context (their life!) in which the book would be written.

Systematise for Success

This is where I am identifying a serious gap. Like, a massive chasm that even if you were Evel Knievel you couldn’t jump. Your very own Snake River Valley. Most people don’t know how to create a system. Yes, they can do a thing once or twice, or maybe even five times, but they rely on enthusiasm and they are certainly not consistent over the long term.

I recommend identifying the one system that if you were to consistently implement it, would lead to your success. For example, “Write two pages, three days per week”. If you were only to do this, inevitably you would write enough words for your book!

Let’s have a look how to systematise for your outcome:

  1. Identify the process (or as I call it, ‘the thing’) that will give you the maximum leverage for your outcome. In this case it is simply “write”. Begin to do the thing.
  2. Explore the support structure you’ll need to consistently do the thing. Ask yourself “What do I need to take care of so I can do the thing”, or conversely, “What would get in the way of me doing the thing?” These are your gremlins.
  3. Develop strategies to manage the gremlins. There is no fast fix. Those things that are getting in the way of your writing are the gremlins that stalk you in many facets of your life. By focusing primarily on the thing, and managing the gremlins, you just may find that you see high quality results in other contexts!


Don’t let the simplicity of this strategy belie its power. By shifting your focus from the goal and to the process, you are creating sustainable & supportive change that will lead you to success.

In summary: If you want to get the result, then make sure that you consistently do the thing.

What is a goal you have that if you turned into a process or a system could guarantee you results? If you would like to read more, check out my book: The Agile Project Manager. You can buy it here.



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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.