Scott Hanselman

Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection for Remote Team Management

January 15, 2017 Comment on this post [9] Posted in Productivity
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Monday Vision, Friday ReflectionMy friend J.D. Meier has an amazing blog called Sources of Insight and he's written a fantastic book called Getting Results the Agile Way. You can buy his book on Amazon (it's free on Kindle Unlimited!). I put J.D. up there with David Allen and Stephen Covey except J.D. is undiscovered. For real. If you've seen my own live talk on Personal Productivity and Information Overload you know I reference J.D.'s work a lot.

I've been a people manager as well as an IC (individual contributor) for a while now, and while I don't yet have the confidence to tell you I'm a good manager, I can tell you that I'm trying and that I'm introspective about my efforts.

My small team applies J.D.'s technique of "Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection" to our own work. As he says, this is the heart of his results system.

The way it works is, on Mondays, you figure out the 3 outcomes you want for the week.  Each day you identify 3 outcomes you want to accomplish.  On Friday, you reflect on 3 things going well and 3 things to improve.  It’s that simple. - J.D. Meier

We are a remote team and we are in three different time zones so the "morning standup" doesn't really work so well for us. We want a "scrum" style standup, but we're a team that lives in Email/Slack/Microsoft Teams/Skype.

Here's how Monday Vision works for us as a team. We are transparent about what we're working on and we are honest about what works and when we stumble.

  • On Monday morning each of us emails the team with:
    • What we hope to accomplish this week. Usually 3-5 things.
    • This isn't a complete list of everything on our minds. It's just enough to give context and a vector/direction.

It's important that we are clear on what our goals are. What would it take for this week to be amazing? What kinds of things are standing in our way? As a manager I think my job is primarily as traffic cop and support. My job is to get stuff out of my team's way. That might be paperwork, other teams, technical stuff, whatever is keeping them out of their flow.

These emails might be as simple as this (~real) example from a team member.

Last Week:

  • DevIntersection Conference
    • Workshop and 2 sessions
  • Got approval from Hunter for new JavaScript functionality

This Week:

  • Trip Report, Expenses, and general administrivia from the event last week
  • Final planning for MVP Summit
  • Spring Planning for ASP.NET Web Forms, IIS Express, EF4, WCF, and more 
  • Modern ASP.NET Web Forms research paper
  • Thursday evening – presenting over Skype to the London.NET user-group “Introduction to Microservices in ASP.NET Core”

Again, the lengths and amount of detail vary. Here's the challenge part though - and my team hasn't nailed this yet and that's mostly my fault - Friday Reflection. I have an appointment on my calendar for Friday at 4:30pm to Reflect. This is literally blocked out time to look back and ask these questions....

  • On Friday evening on the way out, email the team with:
    • What worked this week? Why didn't Project Foo get done? Was the problem technical? Logistical? Organizational?
    • Did you feel amazing about this week? Why? Why not? How can we make next week feel better?

What do you do to kick off and close down your week?

Related J.D. Meier productivity reading

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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January 15, 2017 18:48

You should check out the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. I think it is excellent. It uses a similar system of a weekly cadence of commitments and accountability. Although it may be better suited to operations rather than software development, it may give you additional insights that you can incorporate into your system.

The 4 disciplines are:
Discipline #1 - Focus on the wildly important.
Discipline #2 - Act on the lead measures.
Discipline #3 - Keep a compelling scoreboard.
Discipline #4 - Create a cadence of accountability.

Here is a video by one of the authors summarizing it.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution in a Nutshell

Cal Newport discussed this system in his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, another book that I highly recommend. I am currently trying to decide how I want to incorporate these ideas into my life and work.
January 17, 2017 7:14

I've read a ton of your stuff and appreciate your sharing your knowledge. I have a gnarly question for you that I can't find the answer to - but maybe you know. In MVC 5, if you want to pass a named anchor from the Controller, without messing up the model state, how do you do it? This requirement occurs when you have a long page with a form in the middle and you want to return to the form, not the top of the page.

Any ideas? Links to possible solutions?

January 17, 2017 19:23
I saww in your note above "Modern ASP.NET Web Forms research paper"

Is web forms coming back?
January 17, 2017 23:18
@Robin - Did Web Forms ever go away? Its still being actively developed with fixes and features.
January 18, 2017 2:18
@JeffFritz - Hi Jeff I know it's still around for 4.5 but wasn't sure on the dotnetcore front. We have a lot of WebForms apps and we was thinking we need to migrate them to MVC in the medium term. Hence, my interest.

We have been using MVC for a while now, but if there's an easier upgrade path for those web form apps I think we would take it.
January 18, 2017 20:12
1. Pick 3 goals for the day

2. Ignore the 50% sales pitch/marketing in improvement, agile process, software development articles read during the day.

3. Standards come from ANSI / ISO and optional guidelines come from companies

4. Solve business problem first; and solution should not be forced to fit into software pattern of the month or fleeting best practice

5. Shipping the first production version is 15% or less of substantial applications; costs after first production deployment should focus on a maintainable solution and not resume driven development

6. Use a technology set for the project which will be stable, supported and of reasonable cost for the expected life of the project + 5 years (don't use 25+ cool frameworks, libraries, tools, custom developed extensions to the development/build tools)

7. A library with a bunch of random blog posts, 3 developers and a github page should be expected to be unsupported and have blocking bugs in 5 years

8. Include a library/tool/controls set if you expect to use 40% or more of it

9. Having source code to an open source library is of no help if it requires months to understand the code well enough to fix a bug

10. Avoid the golden hammer anti-pattern

11. Use the top tier tools from a vendor and not the second, third or fourth tier ones

12. Study your development tools to recognize a vendor rediscovering and buzzword re-branding an existing technology/methodology

13. Study computer and software development history from before you started programming to find that common problems repeat themselves from the 1950s onward


I appreciate when the podcast has guests which are outside of the core development field or are developers which worked in the 1970s and 1980s.
January 20, 2017 15:14
thanks scott
January 29, 2017 20:02
Thank you Scott. We could use your application of JD Meier's results system to help solve our remote team communication problems. Appreciate referral to JD Meier's site which appears to have a lot of great content.
February 07, 2017 9:02
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.