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August 15, 2019

Meeting Goals with Agile: It’s Not Just for Business

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It’s well over halfway through the year, and if you’re like most people, you set a fitness goal. Have you stuck to it? We know how hard it can be because Jay recently competed in his first physique competition. Years before he entered this competition, he tried lots of “fad diets” and failed miserably. This time, Jay achieved his goal. What made the difference? Jay took a strategic, flexible, Agile approach that helped him successfully meet his goals and sustain them for the long term. Here, we share how Agile approaches can help you achieve your own success: the method is goals-based, data-driven, and relies on continuous learning to find the right mix for you.


Start with Mindset

The first key is a mindset shift. Most people go for a new and trendy diet or fat loss program when they start. We’ve all heard their pitches; these fad diets promise fast results in the short term. Even if it delivers results, these approaches are unsustainable. Most people end up giving up or, worse, switching to another fad. This is weight cycling or “yo-yo dieting” and it takes a big toll on your body and metabolism.

Agile initiatives in organizations follow the same cycle, with similar results. People want a quick solution to solve all their problems—a few training classes or one coach for a 200-person IT team. These “fad diets” have lofty goals and unsustainable approaches. They ignore an organization’s context—it’s lifestyle—and long-term mission. The key is to take a more iterative and incremental approach, one that incorporates learning cycles, metrics, and regular feedback.


Establish a Baseline

In fitness, a great way to do this is to establish a starting point by determining your maintenance calories. Maintenance calories are what you need to consume each day to sustain your current weight. Jay uses a simple equation of body weight (in pounds) * 15. If you lead a less active lifestyle, you might use a multiple of 14. Or, if you’re training hard and on your feet all day, 16 might be better. The key is to get a baseline. The same logic applies to Agile teams and organizations. One of the first steps our coaches take is establishing baseline metrics which can be used to assess the success of future improvements.


Determine your mix

Once you know your baseline, you can determine the right mix of protein, non-protein, and fat calories to sustain your weight or help you lose some of it. Jay’s daily consumption targets for maintenance would be 2190 calories, broken down this way:

  • 146 grams of Protein
  • 60 grams of Fat
  • 266.5 grams of Carbohydrates

This approach works for Jay and his lifestyle. He’s learned that he can successfully sustain this approach. That’s key. Just like with Agile, you need to adapt your chosen approach to your context to make it work successfully.

Because we’re all different, Jay’s numbers won’t be perfect for you. The same is true for the right Agile approach for your organization. What works for one company won’t necessarily work for yours. You need to experiment to find the right mix.


Move Towards Your Goals

Once you establish a baseline, you can begin to move towards your goals. Let’s say you want to lose fat. In that case, the most important thing to keep in mind is calories in versus calories out. To sustain fat loss, you must be in a caloric deficit, so the calories you consume must be less than the calories you burn.

One straightforward way to put yourself into caloric deficit is to decrease your calories or increase your activity level. Simple right? Not so fast! Decreasing calories or increasing cardio too much or too fast can leave you with less flexibility because your body will adapt to these changes and you’ll run into an impediment – a fat loss plateau. You need to approach it less aggressively and create a sustainable pace of weight loss.

Similar challenges come implementing Agile. If you make changes too fast, without building the necessary support or creating sufficient buy-in, you can undermine long-term success. Team members need time to familiarize themselves with new ways of working and adapt them to context. A mindful change management approach that creates room for experimentation and adaptation is necessary for successful Agile adoption. We call this Agile Mixology, and it means finding the best ingredients that work for you.


A Sustainable Pace

Fitness goals benefit from adaptation and experimentation. Small and impactful adjustments to your diet can help. Making small changes, combined with accurate record-keeping, allows you to chart your progress. Monitor for a week or two, make adjustments, and then reflect and reevaluate. Repeat this process until you meet your goals. Remember, one pound of fat is roughly 3500 calories and one half to one pound of weight loss per week is a sustainable pace.

Sustainable pace is important for Agile success as well. Teams work best when they find a rhythm, a rate that they can maintain and use for future forecasts and planning. Regular retrospectives, or learning cycles, help teams find that sustainable pace. If they measure how much work they take in and how fast they deliver it, Agile teams can quickly find a consistent rate of working. Retrospectives can also help them identify impediments, obstacles that keep them from working more effectively and accelerating. Just as with fitness, the best approach is the one that fits your context.


Continuously Improve

As you near your goals, reflect on your progress. If you’re happy with your results and are feeling good, adjust to maintain your weight. If want to continue, you can do just that. Or, you can transition into lean weight gain. There is no end date because you now have a sustainable lifestyle. Just like an effective Agile adoption, a sustained approach to your fitness goals becomes a new way of working and living. Metrics, regular feedback, and learning cycles combine to tie it all together.

If you want to learn how to find the right mix for you, please reach out and we’ll be happy to explain how we can help you make it successful.

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