To an Agile New Year

To an Agile New Year

January 2, 2017 0 By Eric Shanks

Another year has come and gone. The aspirations that we had for our past trip around the sun have been extinguished and a new set of goals wrapped in confident optimism are on our horizons. For many, the end of the year is used to recharge and take a break from work to celebrate with our families. Now with rejuvenated ambition we can set our backlog of objectives for a new year’s worth of challenges. This post attempts to relate some agile principles used for work in your everyday struggle to meet the new year’s goals.

Feedback Loop

If we’ve learned anything from agile methodologies, we know that to be successful we need to have constant feedback. What’s working and what isn’t. Maybe you set a new year’s resolution last year and you can see how you did. Did you accomplish what you set out to do or not? If you didn’t, what held you back? For me I had both personal as well as work goals. I wanted to finish my second VCDX, run my first 5k, complete a Pluralsight course, be home with family more, and lose some weight. I was able to get four of my goals done last year. (If you’re wondering, I left the weight loss goal alone so that I could use it as an example of adding it to my backlog. It’s my story, just let it go.) I think I was pretty productive last year since I worked on some big projects for my employer, wrote about 100 blog posts and completed a few other certifications.

Now that we’ve identified what last years objectives were and if we me the goals or not, take a closer look at those objectives. If you didn’t meet your goals, why not? This could be due to any number or reasons including poor planning, an unforeseen issue like an illness, or just about anything. The important part of this exercise is to try to understand why it didn’t happen, and what could be done to fix it if anything. Please don’t think I’m lecturing here, I don’t have all the answers either, but from my past experiences I know that you can’t fix things when you don’t know why they’re broken in the first place. Well, except when turning it off and on again actually works.

Update the Backlog

While you’re analyzing last years goals, try to decide what should be added to the new year’s backlog of activities. Obviously, new things that you want to do will be added but also the stuff that didn’t get accomplished for the previous year? It’s worth analyzing last years goals to determine if the work you did was of value to you. Maybe that shiny certification you were going for was more trouble than it was worth. Maybe you spent too much time trying to hit your goals which took you away from family or other things that you find more important?

I like to pick goals that I think are reasonably attainable but sometimes a really lofty goal is needed to push yourself. If you’re going to pick a goal that seems daunting, consider adding milestones for that task. For example, instead of saying “VCDX Certification” as a goal, set smaller milestones to get you to your goal like “Pick a VCDX Design Project by March 1st” and “Submit VCDX Design by August”. This way you can keep your focus on a smaller achievable task rather than the whole thing which might feel impossible at first.

Add Sprints

Whatever your goals may be, set them in your backlog and work on them throughout the year. Consider checking in with them on a periodic basis or even setting smaller goals in sprints. Maybe each week has a goal of losing one pound, or learning one small topic of a bigger subject. Then check back in with yourself and take stock with some honest feedback on how you did. Remember that you can always add something to the backlog and start it again if you need to and you can change directions if something isn’t working.

Whatever your goals may be in the new year good luck and have an agile new year!