Category: AgileOS Blog

50% of Training Gone in an Hour? The Vital Rise of Just-In-Time Learning (3 min read)

What you need to know, when you need to know it …

The best analogy for Just-In-Time learning is to compare driving directions.

Let’s assume that you are driving to Matlock, in Derbyshire, UK. (If you already live in Matlock – swap that for Cirencester. 😉 )

The old school of training is the equivalent of someone reeling off a 5 minute spiel of “take the first on the right, then second on the left, then turn left again at the tree.”

Unless you are a memory genius, you’re lost very quickly.

Image result for satnav

Just-In-Time training is more like SatNav.

When you get to the junction, then it tells you to turn left.

It’s what you need to know, when you need to know it.

50% gone in one hour …

Here’s an interesting fact:

Neurological research shows that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50 percent of the information learned in a course environment. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70 percent of new information, and within a week, an average of 90 percent of it is gone like it never existed. (Source: Ebbinghaus)

Image result for bored delegates

There is some good news though.

What tends to remain (if it’s been properly described) is the overall picture of what is going on … the CONTEXT.

It’s the sequential EXECUTION that the brain doesn’t manage to store.

(Just in the same way as you can remember roughly what the route to Matlock looks like on a map of the UK, but remembering each specific turn and junction is less straightforward.)

A problem as old as the industrial revolution.

It could be argued that most training courses are designed for the convenience of the training provider, not the ideal learning pattern of the person being trained.

They are a derivation of the school system, whose primary aim in the beginning was to prepare a workforce for offices and factories. Turn up at 9 sharp, wear a uniform.

Image result for school

The prolonged data-burst method is convenient for the provider, but doesn’t serve the learner. If anything, it generates stress and a desire to disconnect with the process.

There are two other problems that afflict many traditional training courses.

The first is that there is often the tacit assumption that what you are learning is the only thing you are going to be doing.

It’s not always clear how to integrate these new moving parts into your already busy work-space.

The second is that you will often be delegating many of the tasks to other people who aren’t with you on the course.

And tasking people to do something you can barely remember yourself is as frustrating as it is ineffective.

The solution …

The ideal solution is to have contextual training at the start, and just-in-time execution guides for the “doing” bits.

The contextual picture allows you to understand the bigger picture, and the cost/benefit of doing the thing in the first place.

And in an ideal world, the “doing” bits will be clearly defined tasks you can schedule and prioritise along with everything else.

That way, they can also be assigned to other people, and the instructions for the task or activity are embedded in it.

Try Just-In-Time learning for yourself …

Here at AgileOS, we’re working hard to be at the forefront of this evolution in how learning actually translates into effective action.

Our project and task blueprints are built with CONTEXT and EXECUTION in mind.

Our blueprints cover a wide range of essential business projects and task, from designing innovative products and services to marketing them effectively, to managing and refining teams and operating processes.

Each blueprint gives you a context explainer – an overall picture of what you’re going to achieve, and the benefits you will get from it.

We divide what needs to be done into manageable execution blocks, (with attached instructions for each) which can then be scheduled and integrated with everything else you are doing.

(We’ve even created a drag-and-drop action management tool using the popular Trello engine so you can manage it all beautifully.)

You can try it yourself now at http://petercameronburnett.com.

You’ll get our action management system and a selection of blueprints so you can see it in action for yourself.

 

 

REDISCOVERED: Noah’s Project Plan for the Ark! (5 min read)

A fun worked example to enlighten and inspire …

To help you get a better idea of how all the bits of AgileOS fit together, we’ve sat down as a team and created a showcase for you based on the story of Noah and the Ark.

This light-hearted example has been specifically designed to show you all the essential components you get with our Free Starter Pack in action, including:

  • How to translate from your big vision all the way down to daily action
  • How to use our various techniques to help you have great ideas at different levels
  • How to prioritise everything you are doing quickly and easily
  • The power of collaboration and contextual discussion (feel free to click into the cards and see the comment threads between Noah and his sons!)

We hope you have as much fun looking through it as we did creating it! 😉

 

Get your own Free Starter Pack

If you don’t already have your AgileOS starter pack, you can get yours here.

It has training videos and instruction cards to help you get up and running in minutes.

We designed AgileOS as a system to help you to define and deliver your own personal vision of success in every area of your work and home life.

Our mobile work-life management system helps you to focus your thoughts, define your goals and manage your actions and teams from anywhere in the world. It gives you a place to park and process every idea, task or challenge, and helps you do or delegate things in seconds.

You don’t need any technical knowledge – but if you do have any questions, we’re always here to help!

 

 

Begin with the End in Mind: What does success look like for YOU personally? (2 min read)

The 3 ways people often go astray

There seem to be 3 main ways that people come unstuck when it comes to achieving what they want.

  • The first is that they try to follow someone else’s route to success – these are the people climbing the proverbial “ladder leaning against the wrong wall.”
  • The second is they they assume success is far more important in one area of their lives – these are the people frantically spinning their career plate whilst their personal relationship and health plates wobble and tumble crashing to the floor.
  • The third is they try to do everything at once – these are the people who put every idea into action straight away, who mistake busy for productive.

So there seem to be 3 criteria for defining what you want to achieve.

  • It needs to personal: rather than a hand-me-down route to someone else’s destination, you need something that resonates with you personally. Something tailored to fit who YOU are, what YOU are good at, and what YOU care about.
  • It needs to be holistic: this is a fancy way of saying you need to balance all of the roles in your life, and make sure that any area where you have some form of commitment gets the right amount of airtime.
  • It needs to be phased: as the saying goes, there is a time for everything under the sun. We can’t do everything at once, so we need a place to keep things simmering until we are in the right place in our lives to realise that dream without it being at the expense of other important things.

Beginning with the end YOU want in mind.

Most of us have by now figured that the initial buzz of material things (whilst fun) is no replacement for a balanced life.  There are enough mansions of the miserable out there as it is, populated by people who worked bloody hard and sacrificed important things to get to a place where they didn’t actually want to be.

Some of you will recognise the phrase beginning with the end in mind as being associated with the late great Stephen Covey.

Covey’s studies produced a lot of great work – but one of his most important observations was that up until recent times, success literature was about development of character – having the strength to express who YOU are.

As opposed a lot of modern stuff, most of which is a collection of techniques and strategies which – whilst great in their own right – are missing an underlying and essential purpose.

7 important questions

You already know that the quality of the answers you get in life comes from the quality of the questions we ask ourselves.

So here are some important questions to consider.

  • Who are the people you admire for what they achieved in their lives?
  • Who are the people you most respect in terms of the value they add?
  • If you woke up one morning and found you had £100,000,000,000 in your account, what would you dedicate you life to doing? (After the usual flurry of toys and adventures!)
  • What legacy do you want to leave behind?
  • If you were in charge of the universe, what would you use YOU to do, given your talents and passions?
  • What would you want your eventual Wikipedia entry to say about you?
  • What is the best way that you can add the biggest value to other people’s live to the point where they show their gratitude financially?

A tool to help you

It takes some careful thought to be able to step back from what we are fed daily by the world around us, to focus on our agenda as opposed to the agendas of other people.

To work out what we actually want to achieve ourselves, and then chunk it down into the most important actions.

And that thinking isn’t easy to do solely in the cramped and hectic office of our minds.

That’s why we designed AgileOS as a system to help you to define and deliver your own personal vision of success in every area of your work and home life.

AgileOS empowers you to focus your thoughts, define your goals and manage your actions and teams from anywhere in the world. It gives you a place to park and process every idea, task or challenge, and helps you do or delegate things in seconds.

And because it’s important, we made it free.

If you’d like to see how it can help you, check out our starter kit.

 

 

Here are the 5 types of skill you need to progress in life. (Read Time: 2m15s)

As you progress in life, the types of skills you need to succeed evolve through 5 stages.

The Ability to Take Action

When we’re young and just starting out, we need to be able to DO things. Other people tell us what to do, we just need to be able to do it well. (At this point, you are normally at team member level.)

The Ability To Manage Projects

After we’ve mastered doing simple tasks, we get given more things to do, things where there are a number of actions we need to take, and its up to us to work out what they are and in what order to do them. We may even have other people that we get to take action. (This is often the start of a junior management role for us.)

The Ability To Set Objectives

The next stage in our evolution comes when we need to decide how far and fast things get done. We start setting targets and creating defined objectives, and ensuring people are doing the projects and actions that will help us get there. (This is often a middle management role.)

The Ability To Manage the Mission

If we do well managing objectives, then we will will have the opportunity to progress to the next level – managing the mission, and ensuring that people are setting the right objectives with their areas. (At this point we’re often at senior management level. They may even name car parking spaces after you!)

The Ability To Define the Vision

The pinnacle is where we are in charge of where all this is going. Our success depends on us seeing the path clearly, and motivating and inspiring other people to work together and make it happen. (This is where we become a true leader and visionary, and often an industry thought leader.)

So here’s the question …

How good are you right now at doing each of these things? How would you rate your abilities in each area on a scale of 1 to 5?

How far you get in life will rely on your ability to manage your own evolution through those 5 stages.

Here are some important things to bear in mind …

  • The more senior you become, the more you will need the ability to manage increasing levels of vagueness and complexity.
  • Our brains do very well on their own at lower levels (doing predefined physical tasks) but they work less well on their own when managing and balancing lots of conceptual things.
  • The higher you progress, the less well defined your required outcomes are.
  • If you want to start your own business, you need to instantly master all 5 of these areas.
  • If you don’t develop the skills you need, you will limit your ability to either progress in an existing company or build your own.
  • The more senior we get, the more things are happening in our lives. (IE Increased responsibility in our professional lives, and a growing number of moving parts at home – house, spouse, kids etc.)
  • Happiness only comes when all of the plates in your life are spinning OK.

AgileOS was created to help you manage your thinking and actions at all 5 of those levels.

The AgileOS system is a place where you can manage everything in your personal and professional life, beautifully.

It has the DEPTH you need: from defining your vision through to managing what you are doing today – AgileOS gives you a place to handle it all.

It has the BREADTH you need: from handling work tasks and teams through to managing your personal life and goals – AgileOS gives you a place to handle it all

AgileOS empowers you to focus your thoughts, define your goals and manage your actions and teams from anywhere in the world. It gives you a place to park and process every idea, task or challenge, and helps you do or delegate things in seconds.

 

 

 

 

How to solve the biggest problem with your mind …

In this article, Peter Cameron-Burnett looks at a critical shortcoming in your mind’s setup, and what you can do to get more done faster with less stress. 


The problem We all face.

People often say the mind is like a computer.

It is, but the way it’s evolved means it has a massive processor and very small RAM. And its operating system is thousands of years overdue for an update.

In normal speak, that means it’s great at performing specific tasks, but it’s not great at holding lots of tasks in a queue, or working out which tasks are next.

Here’s why.

The method our brain uses to determine what to do next is still based on what we like and what we hate.

The two boxes inside your head

From this point of view, the mind has two boxes.

Things you want to be closer to. This box was originally designed for attractive mates, warmth and things you can eat.

Things you want to be further away from. This box was originally designed to contain fire, loud noises and anything with more teeth than the entire Osmond family.

And that those are the boxes that your brain still uses for all of the tasks you want to do.

Guess what that means?

Your unconscious mind sees its job as keeping you safe from the things you don’t want to do.

And because you can only hold a few things in conscious memory, whose job it it to try and remember what you need to do?

Your unconscious mind.   

(And by the way, all of the above is even more true for people who are anywhere on the autistic spectrum, or who have attention or focus issues.)

So that leads us to …

The Truth about Stress

Stress is originally an engineering term.

You could arguably say it means a force applied to something in a way that the something wasn’t designed to handle.

I’m going to propose a statement about stress. See if you agree.

Stress doesn’t come from doing any one thing. It comes from trying to work out what you need to do, and in what order.

An unpleasant job isn’t necessarily stressful.

But you can start to experience stress choosing between pleasant things.

Example:

You are in a restaurant. The menu is full of your favourite food. Everyone is waiting for you to order. You look at the menu again. It all looks delicious.

To most people that actually becomes a stressful situation, even though whichever dish they choose will be an enjoyable experience.

So here’s the takeaway from that. (Restaurant pun not intended!)

Stress doesn’t come from what you are doing. It comes from how you manage what you are doing.

Snapping apart Thinking and doing

Let’s take two types of people.

Army officers and professional American football players.

Both are trained to think beforehand, and then focus on doing, because experience has shown that thinking and doing are two separate activities.

If you stand about thinking on the battlefield, you get damaged.

If you stand about thinking on the playing field, you get damaged (albeit to a lesser extent.)

That doesn’t mean that we don’t think about what we’re doing.

But what it does mean is that we should ONLY be thinking about what we are doing.

Question for you:

How much of your mental chatter when you are doing something is your brain thinking about other things and debating whether they are actually more important? 

(Again, for anyone on the spectrum, this will be something you can resonate with.)

So how do we solve this?

The answer is that we need an external operating system to support and extend our mind, a place where the things we have to do can live.

A place where we can use our conscious mind to prioritise.

Then we get to move from subconsciously prioritising based on what we like to consciously prioritising based on what’s important to us.

Then there is less stress. There is just a lot of activity.

The energy that was used to power our stress (being stressed takes effort!) becomes available to us as creativity and inspiration.

It’s like closing down the mental chatter department in your head and reassigning the people to your creativity team.

We need something to help us go from:

so we can get to …

Welcome to our world 😉

This is exactly the reason why we developed AgileOS.

(In fact the OS in the name stands for Operating System.)

It’s designed to be a flexible system that supports your thinking, and allows you to create a low-stress high-productivity workflow that removes the traffic jams in your head and gets you moving.

And because it’s important, we made it free.

It helps you do all of the things we’ve shown you above, quicker and easier than anything else out there.

You can sign up for free at http://petercameronburnett.com


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A 10-step Technique for setting Objectives that take you places

In this article, Peter Cameron-Burnett explains an essential 10 point technique to help you achieve more by making sure your objectives are set up properly to move you and your team quickly forward towards your goals. 


An essential technique to move you forward.

Someone recently told us that AgileOS was “a big bunch of great techniques flying in close formation” – which is a description the team here loved!

And I’d like to share one of those techniques with you now, because it’s really important for you to get this right.

After all, your objectives are what make things actually happen for you.

By getting specific about what we want, by making it measurable and manageable, we create a tangible step forward toward your goal.

(By the way, if you haven’t read our article on the Golden Ladder – which gives you important context for your objectives – you can find it here.)

A properly constructed objective should motivate and inform you (and the people working with you if you have some).

It should tell you know where you are going, why you want to get there, how you are going to get there, and how you will know when you have arrived.

Just like some garages do a 10 point check when you bring your car in, there are 10 points that we check to make sure your objectives are ready to fly.

5 of them are the components of the objective, which we derived years ago from something called Commander’s Intent – a NATO technique for defining mission objectives that has been literally battle tested.

And the other 5 are something that will be familiar to almost anyone who has worked in the corporate world.

Together they will help you make your goals real, so that both your unconscious mind and your teams are inspired to move forwards!

#1: Defining your Objective

We teach people to add these 5 areas to their objective cards on their AgileOS board. They are what help us translate your vision and mission through to actual projects and actions:

And here they are:

Step 1: Desired Situation (Where do we want to be?)

We start with a short description of what we want the world to be like when we have achieved our objective.

It should be written in current tense, so your mind (and your team) can visualise it, and it should describe all the ways we would know that we have achieved the goal.

Let’s take the example of losing weight: the desired situation is that on a specified date,  you are able get on the scale and the scale will read X kg.

Step 2: Current Situation (Where are we now?)

This is an important description of what things are like at the moment.

Using the weight example, how much do we weigh now?

This is important because it helps us define a starting point – if we know the start point and the end point, then we know the size of the gap.

Step 3: Rationale (Why do we want to move from one situation to the other?)

This is where we write down all the reasons we want to move forward from one to the other.

It’s essential, because most things that are worth achieving are going to need effort, time and money to get there.

And when things get a little tougher, we need to remind ourselves why we are bothering!

For instance, in terms of losing weight, we are explicit about how good we will feel, how much longer we’re going to live, how much longer our knees, hips and back will last, how much more enjoyment we will have playing with kids and so on.

Step 4: Transition Strategy (How do we get from the current situation to the desired situation?)

Now we know the size of the gap between desire and current reality, and why we want to close that gap, this is where we start to look at what we’re going to do about it.

And as you can imagine, these ideas are then the seeds from which the projects you create to fulfill this objective will grow.

TIP: Using a mindmap (either an online tool or just on a piece of paper) is a great way to spark ideas here.

Step 5: Tracking Approach (How are we going to measure and stay on track?)

Having a great objective is pointless if we don’t keep an eye on how we are doing when it comes to achieving it.

We also want to look at how we are going to chunk down getting to our destination broken down into units of time.

So if we want to lose 12 kg in 12 weeks, we could decide on a target of 1 kg per week.

To track that, we could decide to weigh ourselves once a week.

(And of course, we can then add that seamlessly into everything else we are doing by creating a recurring action in the .do section of our AgileOS board!)

#2: CHECKING your Objective

This section is a quick checklist that we use to make sure our objective isn’t missing something important, and uses the SMART you may have encountered before:

Check 1: Have we been specific? 

Do we know exactly what outcome we want to achieve here? The way to test that is to describe it simply to someone.

If you can’t do it in such a way that they can picture it, you need more detail.

(This detail normally goes into Step #1 – the desired situation.)

Check 2: Is it measurable?

Have we got measurements in place that will help us know we’re on track, and when we have arrived?

(This detail normally goes into Step #1 – the desired situation, and Step 5 – Tracking Approach.)

Check 3: Is it achievable?

Ambitious objectives breathe life into you and your team. Unrealistic objectives are a morale and motivation killer.

Make sure you are on the right side of that fine line by looking at the gap you are trying to close, the amount of time you are allowing for it, and the resources you have at your disposal.

(This detail normally goes into Step #4 – transition strategy.)

Check 4: Is it resourced?

Have we thought through and assigned the right amount of time, money, people etc to this?

(This detail normally goes into Step #4 – transition strategy.)

Check 5: Is it timed?

Do we have an properly defined end date ?

(This detail normally goes into Step #1 – the desired situation, and Step 5 – Tracking Approach.)

Rinse and repeat!

Once you have mastered this for one area, you’ll find it quickly comes naturally for the others that you do.

Getting good at this skill is critical to your success – whatever your situation.

Everyone can work hard – but doing this type of thinking that will have a massive positive impact on your outcomes is rare – and in hot demand! 😉


Get AgileOS, and Manage your objectives beautifully …

AgileOS is a free system designed to help you manage your personal and professional life, business and teams, removing stress and boosting energy and creativity by helping you get a lot of mental processes out of your head onto a system you can trust.

It helps you do all of the things we’ve shown you above, quicker and easier than anything else out there.

You can sign up for free at http://petercameronburnett.com


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Become a Black Belt of Prioritisation with these 3 moves

In this article, Peter Cameron-Burnett looks at 3 fast and effective techniques you can use to ensure you to get you the biggest bang for your effort buck, to make sure you succeed in each important area of your life. (Professional and personal!)


Time is our most precious asset.

How we spend it defines how much success we have in our lives.

It’s one of the things that unites everyone on the planet. Rich or poor, successful or otherwise.

We each get just 24 hours a day to work with.

There’s an old analogy about time being like a jar.

And into that same sized jar, we each have to fit all the things we want to do.

Work, family, health, personal development – the whole enchilada.

Here’s the problem …

A lot of people just try to ram everything in there.

They try to make the jar bigger by using coffee instead of sleep.

They try to get more in the jar by “multi-tasking”, which is a nice way of saying they do lots of things poorly at the same time.

They also feel stressed because they know they are missing things in their headlong rush to “just do it”.

There is a problem with managing what you do in your head.

The problem is that your brain is a bit colorblind when it comes to working out the difference between urgent and important.

It sees both as being the same.

If you look at successful people, you will notice that one of their common features is they spend time doing the things that are most important.

Resolve to become a master of prioritisation

We’re going to give you three really good tips on how to do this well, but we need to make sure your mindset is open to receive them, otherwise we’re dropping seeds onto concrete.

So take a moment now to decide that you are going to improve and enrich your life by getting better at prioritisation.

Here’s why it’s important: as the great David Allen says, “there is always more to do that you can get done.”

If each day is like trying to evacuate a 2000 passenger liner into lifeboats that can hold 200, then we need to become masters of who gets in the boats first! 😉

So here are 3 things that you can do to make sure YOU are doing the same.

#1: Get your tasks out of your head onto some sort of system.

If I read out 15 words in rapid succession, and tell you to put them in alphabetical order, you’ll probably struggle doing it mentally.

And your life is a hell of a lot more complicated than ordering 15 words.

So let’s get your tasks out of your head onto a system where we can see and work with them.

By the way, one of the key reasons you can’t work on this stuff in your head is not just a bandwidth issue.

It’s the fact that because every one of your tasks will either be attracting you or repelling you.

And so your unconscious starts hiding the things that repel you.

(A bit like when you ask your kids to tidy their room, and the mess just moves under the bed or into the wardrobe!)

So for you to make conscious decisions about what to do, your conscious mind has to be able to see stuff written down.

#2 Use the MOSCOW system to prioritise what to do

MoSCoW is a really good way of prioritising what you do and what you deliver – largely because it’s super simple and very fast.

There are 4 categories:

  • MUST: These are the things you have to. The world will end if you don’t.
  • SHOULD: These are things that you should do – what you deliver won’t be as good without them, but somehow the world will carry on.
  • COULD: In this shoebox live all the bells, whistles and nice to haves.
  • WON’T: Sometimes calling out what you aren’t going to do is just as important as what you are doing.

Let’s take our above example, and say that you are building a lifeboat.

(Hopefully not one that launches like this …)

  • Musts are it must float, and it must hold say 20 people.
  • Shoulds are it should have some food and water on board.
  • Coulds are it could have navigation tools on board.
  • Won’ts are it won’t have a fully licensed bar.

So what we do is go through our list of things that we created in step 1 and decide what is a must, and should and a could.

And we then do them in descending order of importance.

We evacuate the liner,  musts and children first.

That way, when you do suddenly run out of time because Life happens, it will hopefully be whilst you are doing shoulds or coulds.

#3 Use timeboxes

So far, we have looked at things on a task level.

Another very useful technique that will help you manage the relative importance of different aspects of your life is timeboxing.

This is especially important if you are someone who gets very into things. You lose track of time easily, and suddenly it’s dark and everyone’s gone home and there is still a ton of other stuff you haven’t done.

The stuff you like and want to do gets all your loving …

… and the stuff you don’t want to do gets squished.

Example: I have a timebox of a couple of hours a month to look at accounting stuff.

The reason is I’d far rather be doing AgileOS stuff like this than looking at spreadsheets with our company accountant, and before we introduced timeboxing I was notorious for delivering hard on projects but being my accountant’s worst nightmare.

Now that’s not the case – because there is a protected amount of time for it to get done in.

So it doesn’t get squished!

We also use timeboxes on a daily basis. Blogging like this has a timebox on my action board in AgileOS!


Get AgileOS, and become a master of priortisation fast …

AgileOS is a free system designed to help you manage your personal and professional life, business and teams, removing stress and boosting energy and creativity by helping you get a lot of mental processes out of your head onto a system you can trust.

It helps you do all of the things we’ve shown you above, quicker and easier than anything else out there.

You can sign up for free at http://petercameronburnett.com


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The Golden Ladder From Dream To Reality

In this article, Peter Cameron-Burnett looks at the 5 things you need to have in place to successfully achieve any goal – the 5 things that will help you avoid being either a dreamer or a busy fool! 


Let’s give you a golden ladder to reach your goals …

I’m glad you’re reading this, because this is one of the biggest gifts I could give to you if we were working side by side.

Now, I love working with folks to make their dreams and aspirations happen.

Whether it’s helping someone define and launch a start-up, or helping my 8-year old daughter with her fledgling charity for Unicorns that have lost their horns.

(I was under the impression that a unicorn without a horn was called a horse, but apparently I’m completely wrong there!)

But regardless of who I’m working with, I can give them a fast answer to the question they always ask – “Do you think this is going to work?

And that answer isn’t based on what they are trying to do.

You see, we live in a world where we have restaurants and artificial testicular implants for dogs, companies that produce edible shoes, potato postcards, freestyle cuddling trainers, virtual dating assistants (who do all that onerous stuff for you like talking to them first), and companies that send people you don’t like dead flowers on your behalf.

So we don’t start with WHAT people are trying to achieve.

The first thing I look at is how much of their Golden Ladder is in place. 

The Golden Ladder is what stretches from your overall vision down to the actions you are taking.

There are 5 rungs on this ladder, and just like any other ladder, if any of the rungs are missing, it’s a bad sign!

The 5 things you need to have in place to succeed

They are, in descending order:

  • Vision: a clear understanding of what you want to do, and why it’s important. 
  • Mission: this is where we take your vision and turn it into a direction. 
  • Objective: this is where we say how far and how fast we are going in that direction.
  • Project: This is something we’re going to do to achieve that objective. 
  • Action: This is what we’re actually going to do to make that project (and all the rest of it) happen for us. 

(When we came up with this, we were going to use the acronym VMOPA – but that sounded like an over-hyped cleaning product, so we went with Golden Ladder.)

Let me give you an example of what the Golden Ladder looks like for, say, Apple.

  • Vision: our vision is a world where technology is beautifully intuitive and helps people achieve more   
  • Mission: we are going to change the way people listen to music by creating the iPod. 
  • Objective: we want 30% penetration of the portable music player market by 2008.
  • Project: we will create a fast and simple user interface for the device  
  • Action: user interface team meeting on Monday at 9am. 

When we do it that way, then we actually get the result you want …

By starting with the vision, we connect with the reason WHY we’re doing all this.

Best lesson I got when I was younger:

If you want to know if someone is going to do something, don’t ask them how, ask them WHY. If they have a good why, they will find the how. If they don’t have a good why, the how is irrelevant. 

So the vision gives us an anchor for what we do.

It gives our team something to belong to, and it gives our customers a reason to love us.

You want your customer to know that you’re not just another money machine. You stand for something.

The mission, (and we might have several), then defines the directions we are going in.

Here at AgileOS, for instance, we have 2 missions, which derive from our vision, which is a place where people have the tools to create a better tomorrow whilst successfully managing today.

Our main mission (the AgileOS bit) is to provide people with systems and blueprints that help them achieve more, by getting their thinking out of their head, chunking their goals down into defined and achievable bits, and then using tried and tested methods to make those bits happen.

And we also have our contribution mission (called DeliverAid) where we supply orphans and children in care in poor countries with computers and education materials to help them create a better future.

That helps US know who we are and what we are doing. So, we’re not just a random group of oddballs running around the planet throwing Trello at people. 😉

The objective helps us set a goal. We need to have numbers to move towards.

(And if you can’t put any numbers on it, then you might need to do some more research into what you are trying to do.)

The projects and actions are the things we then chunk down into actually making this happen (and we make sure they are prioritised – we’ll look at that in a future article.)

What happens when you miss a rung?

The best way to explain why the Golden Ladder works is to look at what happens when it’s not all there.

There are 3 types of approach (and in fairness, we’ve all been one of these at one point or another in our lives.)

  • The Dreamer: They have big visions, but their vision never filters down into actions. “All talk and no trousers” as my grandma used to say. (A disturbing image which has remained with me to this day.)
  • The “Busy Fool”: This is said with pity, not derision. It’s the person putting in a lot of energy but they are achieving little. Like a powerboat with a massive engine and a tiny rudder, they are all over the place in an explosion of “spray and pray”.
  • The Achiever: They are lined up nicely. People like working with them, because their idea reaches all the way from the cloud to the ground. They have a “why”, and they also have a “what next?”. If you are a competitor, fear these people.

What you should do next

  • Have a look at what you are trying to achieve: using the Golden Ladder as a checklist. Are you fully aligned across all of those steps?
  • Get a system to manage this: blatant plug for AgileOS coming up – but it’s free, and it’s perfectly designed for doing exactly this job quickly and easily.  But even if you don’t use us, make sure you use something, rather than try and contain this all in your head!
  • Communicate this with people you are working with: this is something that brings people together, increases morale, and energises everyone. What’s not to love?

Get AgileOS, and create your own Golden Ladder in minutes …

AgileOS is a free system designed to help you manage your personal and professional life, business and teams, removing stress and boosting energy and creativity by helping you get a lot of mental processes out of your head onto a system you can trust. You can sign up for free at http://petercameronburnett.com


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Creating an Ideas Pipeline

In this article, Peter Cameron-Burnett looks at why having an ideas pipeline is essential for sanity and success, especially for highly creative and entrepreneurial people – and what a good ideas pipeline looks like. 


Why an Ideas Pipeline is essential …

I’ve worked with a lot of clever people over the last 25 years. Folks with a ton of creativity and energy.

And with very few exceptions they all fall into the same trap:

They try to execute all their good ideas at once.

You know at least one person like this in your life.

(And if you don’t, it might be you! 😉 )

The reason they do this is that because they don’t have anywhere to park these ideas.

Imagine an airport that had no holding pattern in the sky above, and the air traffic controller was trying to land all of the aircraft at once on a single runway.

It creates confusion, and huge amounts burnout in teams. They dread getting the email or WhatsApp at 5am almost every morning announcing another genius idea that needs to be added to an already chaotic working day.

(It accounts for a lot of staff turnover on some organisations. Good people are lost because they can’t tolerate living in the blast of someone’s uncontrolled creative firehose.)

Does that mean that all good ideas need to wait?

Not at all. If you have a genuinely great idea that needs to take priority over the others, then it should be given clearance.

(Much like if a plane which is running out of fuel arrives over an airport, it will be allowed to jump the queue and land first.)

But you need to be really careful how many projects you have on the go at once.

And the reason why is something called context switching.

There has been a lot of research done recently into how much time it takes to switch from one task to another.

Here’s some eye-opening stats from our friends over at Trello:

  • We spend an average of just 1 minute and 15 seconds on a task before being interrupted.
  • It takes an average of 25 minutes to resume a task after being interrupted.
  • Heavily multitasking can temporarily lower your IQ by up to 15 points.

(Trello are the awesome folks whose system is the platform we use for AgileOS.)

Think of it this way.

Most of us are used to the simile of “doing lots of things at once” being like “spinning plates on poles”.

(It’s a well-worn cliche – I’ve lost count of the management books which have images like this on their covers!)

But what context switching tells us is that the plates are actually a long way apart from each other, because it takes so long to swap back and forward between them.

Imagine spinning plates that are 50 yards apart. It won’t take many plates before you are spending more time running than spinning.

So just in the same way, if you have lots of projects on the go, you could be wasting over half your day just trying to re-adjust your focus.

So what’s the answer?

The answer is to have a pipeline – the equivalent of a holding pattern for projects and ideas that are circling patiently over the runway of your productive capability.

Here’s what good looks like here:

  • It needs to be visible for everyone: by letting everyone see what we’re doing in what order, confusion is eliminated, and morale goes up because people feel like someone is in control.
  • It needs to be somewhere you can dump ideas quickly to: ideas usually happen in odd places, in the shower, as you are dropping off to sleep – so you need a way of getting ideas down using what is close to you (which for most folks these days is their smartphone.)
  • It needs to allow you to quickly re-order your ideas: not only should you be able to quickly add and rank the ideas you have, you should also be easily able to back-burner current projects if the Brainwave of the Century hits you whilst you are in Starbucks.

(That’s actually the requirements we used when we created the Pipeline bit of AgileOS – we wanted it to take literally a couple of seconds of work to do each task, and have a clearly visible result!)

So here’s what to do now …

  • Put in place a tool or system to capture and manage ideas: you are massively welcome to use AgileOS, of course – it’s free and built for this.
  • List all of your ideas and projects out: then you know what you are dealing with. (This is like making sure all the planes in the sky are showing up on your radar.)
  • Decide on your bandwidth: depending on how many people you have, you need to decide how many projects you can handle at once (How big is your airport? How many runways do you have?)
  • Rank your projects based on priorities together: a great way to do this is to find the projects that have the biggest impact for the smallest amount of effort, and bump them to the top of the queue..
  • Have a regular meeting to make sure your priorities are still relevant: its good to keep an eye on this and check that you aren’t blowing your bandwidth, and that you are still landing things in the right order!

And if you do all of that, then your great ideas will be gifts from above, not meteors!


Get AgileOS, and create your own Ideas Pipeline in minutes …

AgileOS is a free system designed to help you manage your personal and professional life, removing stress and boosting energy and creativity by helping you get a lot of mental processes out of your head onto a system you can trust. You can sign up for free at http://petercameronburnett.com


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Buddhism for Mayflies

In this article, Peter Cameron-Burnett explains a very useful mental hack that allows you to remove large amounts of stress and free up a raft of energy and creativity.


We become different people when we sleep …

Recent studies into sleep have shown something very interesting.

We all know that when we sleep, our brain downloads the information that we have taken on board during the day, and assimilates it into the rest of our consciousness.

But, it turns out that the brain actually changes shape internally, as it is rewired. New connections form, and other connections change size and shape. And because the shape of your brain and how it is wired defines who you are as a person, that means that technically it’s a slightly different person who wakes up the next day.

What happened yesterday often feels like it happened to somebody else. And to some extent, it did.

Yesterday was a past life – one that lasted 24 hours.

(You may be able to see by now where the title of this article came from!)

And of course, by extension that means that what happens tomorrow will also happen to someone else, someone who is arguably not you.

And this is actually quite a useful way to think.

Are you fighting tomorrow’s battles today?

Because one of the biggest reasons for stress is the fact that many people are trying to fight current and future battles at the same time, instead of solely reserving emotional energy for anything happening today.

That’s like a soldier trying to fight battles single-handedly all along the front line, instead of focusing on the area in front of him.

One of the reasons we developed AgileOS was to help people focus, because the rise of knowledge work (where we don’t have any boundaries to our work anymore) has created a lot of problems which we weren’t taught how to deal with at school.

Within AgileOS, there is a lot of focus on making sure that you do your high-level thinking, then you park all the actions you want to take within a certain week in a separate place, so that you can then solely focus on those when you are doing your normal day-to-day stuff.

And within that weekly list, there is the ability to just look what you’re going to do today.

An approach to solve that problem …

What that allows us to do, in combination with the approach above, is to think the following:

“I’m responsible for this 24 hour period – this time in which I am alive. Anything that happens between the time I wake up and the time I sleep is my responsibility and I will give it 100%. Anything that happens outside my 24-hour lifespan, I do not need to worry about, because it will be handled by another me further on down the line, another me who has their own energy and focus to divert to it. I will do my best to prepare the ground for them, but that is their battle, and I don’t need to fight it for them.”

The average person lives for 27,375 days. So you could in some ways think of yourself not as one person, but as a team 27,000 strong, each one doing their best in the time and place that they are, and not spending any extra energy on worrying about what happen elsewhere along the front line.

Because, from a scientific point of view, you’d actually be right.


Get AgileOS, and get the right focus fast

AgileOS is a free system designed to help you manage your personal and professional life, removing stress and boosting energy and creativity by helping you get a lot of mental processes out of your head onto a system you can trust. You can sign up for free at http://petercameronburnett.com


Has this helped you?

Then please take 30 seconds to help us help others by sharing it using the options below! Many thanks!