Personal Agility

Recently, I've been doing a lot of reflecting on how to increase personal agility. No, I'm not talking about doing somersaults or some crazy yoga poses. I'm speaking of the ability to focus on value and be adaptable in what I do every day; the agility mentioned in the values and principles of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.  When the Manifesto was written back in 2001, there were representatives from Extreme Programming, Scrum, DSDM, Adaptive Software Development, Crystal, Feature-Driven Development, Pragmatic Programming, and others present.  So, when I say agile, I don't necessarily mean Scrum.

Scrum for One?

For the sake of this post, I want to direct focus to people and not organizations.  Being an Agile coach and consultant, I have learned a lot of strategies that have helped me manage customers and accounts.  While working with large complex organizations, I have seen productivity improvements on organizational levels by leveraging Lean and Kanban and on a team level by leveraging Scrum and Kanban. But what about all of the individuals who work for those organizations or on those Scrum teams? What about people who have no idea what Scrum is and don't care? How can they better their productivity?

In the Lifehack article "Scrum for One," Dustin Wax describes how many of the elements of Scrum could be adapted for individual productivity. When reading the article, I wasn't sold on the idea. Scrum is an awesome framework for teams but it's like jamming a round peg in square hole, if you want to use Scrum for your day-to-day productivity.

In Scrum, you demonstrate value to your customer or customer representative every 2-4 weeks, as part of a sprint.  Does that make sense for managing your personal work? No.

In Scrum, you have a 3 roles: ScrumMaster, Product Owner, and Team.  Unless you have a split personality, it's just you!

Most of the things I think about when getting things done include: Aligning activities to outcomes, breaking work into managing chunks, iterating on what was creating so it can be improved over time... The list goes on.  To that, these are not elements exclusive to Scrum.  So, why limit yourself to Scrum?

Personal Agility Manifesto

I believe personal productivity needs to be rethought.  Is personal productivity about being really busy or is it about getting things done?  To be productive, it means you must produce.  If not, you are active. There is a difference!  To help shape my thoughts, I wrote a personal agility manifesto.  You'll notice it's a lot like the Agile Manifesto.  But, there are key differences.

First, (any) outcomes are the primary measure of progress.  This isn't all about software development.

Second, I'm focused on minutes, hours, and days to get things done.  Teams will continue to focus on days, weeks, and months to get work done and shipped.


I'm looking to dig into something anyone can use.  When you hear "Agile" it's actually a pretty niche group. But, when you talk personal productivity, the audience size explodes.  Like with agile, I don't think there is a single right way.  So, I'm looking to experiment and continue to try and get better. Hell, I've been writing about Personal Kanban since 2010.  You'd think I'd have this figured out by now.  Well, I don't.  If you have any tips or tricks, I would love to hear them.