Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Effectively Focused: 8 - Review

Previous Post - 7: Flex - acknowledge changes and adjust

Principle #8: Review

At the end of your self-defined window of time, you take some time to reflect (ideally with your support team), figure out what’s working, what isn’t, think of ways to make it work for you.

At the end of every time box, reflecting on your progress continuously and how you can continue to improve, estimate more accurately, figure out what works for you, what doesn’t. Rework your art. Rework your progress board. How often have you had to change priorities.

Tweak the System

Another area that is ripe for change and adaptation is this process itself! You don’t like sticky notes? Try note cards. Maybe you like technology better than sticky notes? There are a whole host of tools like Trello, Rally, VersionOne, LeanKit, that mimic the paper version. (You can look up Scrum or Agile tools and find a whole host of tools with free subscriptions for individuals.) Maybe this process doesn't quite work for you or sort of does, but you still need a little better task management with a virtual team, so a tool like Asana for virtual team and sticky notes for personal work might be best. Or create your own art and sticky notes. You don’t like coordinating the sticky notes? Mix ‘em up? The whole process is up for grabs for you to tweak and adjust until you are happy with it.

Beyond this system

It might even worth the time to set up a regular (quarterly?) review of your overall business and make sure everything is still working for you. 

  • Does this still work?
  • Is my pricing strategy still working?
  • Is my shipping process efficient?
  • Etc.

Grow the System

If your business grows, you start planning for a large order, a show, or you have some kind of large influx of business, you may need to make modifications to grow this system. If you get to a point where you feel angst and stress, maybe you're finding you have outgrown the system. If you get to this point, let me know! This is great "problem" to have. We can figure out ways to grow the system to meet your new news. This process works with teams of 10 to organizations of 100's.

Changing the System

Nothing in here is required. These are merely a set of guidelines we use (with adaptation) in corporate project management. This process has been adapted to work for the individual and personal time management. I am personally always adapting to see what works best for me and for the teams I work with. The same goes with this system for you. Do what works best for you!

Wherever you are at right now, just take time to sit and think about your feelings towards the process. Do you still feel comfortable? If so, great! Maybe the changes only need to be minor, if at all. 

If you are feeling angst or stress, try to pinpoint what makes you uncomfortable and try some things to change it. It is possible you need make changes: this process is geared to a small scale and maybe you need to figure out how to grow this to handle bigger projects. We run into this same issue technically. You never know until you move forward. Sometimes we know more when we get into the process and if we DID go down a wrong path, we'll take some time to "refactor" (or redo). You know the best for you.

You did it! Are you going in the right direction?

Are you still aligned with your company Mission and Vision? Do you have a Mission and Vision for the product itself? Is the product and your company still aligned? Are you Life Priorities being impacted by your work? If so, are there some adjustments you can make in your work habits to maintain your Life Priorities? Or is hyper-focus and extra time acceptable to your family while you are launching your Product?

Take a few minutes to celebrate your forward movement! You did it! Reward yourself with one of your fun ideas. Take a breather to rejuvenate, get yourself ready and move forward.


At 2 months, we start grooving along, at 5-6 months, we plateau. Either it's getting stale, boring, rote or we're running into real technical problems that the process can't solve. This is when angst, discord, frustration starts manifesting itself on the team. In the case of art, it would be with creative or process issues. Or growing pains! Try to get into a pattern of constantly renewing, revamping, and trying new things at the end of each time box.

Sometimes I let the discordant feelings sit with my teams. Sometimes I look for ways to shake things up. It depends. But one thing important to note: there is never a "destination" in this process. It's always a journey of constantly trying and tweaking.

Thank you for following along in the basic process of using Sticky Note PM (aka Personal Kanban) for your processes. I will continue to talk about Agile and different aspects of it in the creative environment in future posts.

Table of Contents for the Sticky Note PM Program

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