The Year of Being Agile -- To Light the Way
This is part of a series of posts on being more agile in 2017. For the full list of related posts, see the Index.
The trouble with defining an agile end game is that it can be hard to keep it in mind over the months. It's hard enough to keep very concrete goals in front of you over time, let alone a squishy agile goal. Here's how to get around that.
First, you immediately create a few backlog items that are concrete. After all, just because you don't know exactly where you're headed doesn't mean you won't have a first step in mind. So think of of a couple of ideas that you can do RIGHT NOW. This is your first step and the sooner you take it the better.
For example, if your agile goal is financial optionality, you probably have a couple of ideas of things to try right off (spend less, alternate income streams, etc.). Your immediate tasks can be as simple as checking out the library for new books and movies (instead of buying them) or shopping with a list and sticking to it. Really basic stuff that gets you moving. Keep your end game in mind when you create the tasks and review them (more process stuff soon) and you won't have to do it while you're doing them.
Second, you should articulate some guiding principles. This is something I've been experimenting with as part of my Project Ivy. If you can turn your goal into one or more principles, it becomes easier to keep it in mind and stick with it. For example:
"I always try to keep my options open."
"People regret more the things they didn't do."
"Beware long-term commitments."
"Try it and see if you like it."
"Chance favors the prepared."
These are more general agile principles, but you can get more specific to your goals:
"Cash = options."
"Health is the smartest investment."
"I do what I want."
"I'm as strong as my network."
I know these sound like affirmations, and they can be used that way (I'm good enough, I'm smart enough...). But the point here is to use them more practically in your agile sprint planning to define your next steps. Like a light you carry... it may not illuminate the entire path, but it will help you with your next steps so you can see where you are headed.
When there's no map, you aren't typically going to find a big glowing sign over your destination. You have to carry your light with you.
...we have but one punishment for setting alight the grail-shaped beacon...