Book Review: Getting Things Done – 2nd and 3rd parts

This is the sixth article in a series providing a summary “book club” reading of Mr. David Allen’s  “Getting Things Done”. I’m reading from the 2001  Penguin Books edition.

The second phase of the book is about implementation and setting the method up: tools, time, space.
Basically stating that you need to set some time in advance to start and regularly to review, you need a proper space and a couple of tools (trays, paper, pen, labeler, calendar and so on).
This part goes quite into details and they can be read in the book.

The third and last phase is summarizing the key principles and explain a bit more why they are so powerful: the collection habit, the next action and the outcome focus.

All in all, I can only recommend the book: it’s full of practical hints and ideas and can bring some structure to your productivity effort.
More on how I implemented the GTD method in a future post.

Agile or Waterfall?

In my previous posts, I touched briefly the waterfall model and the agile models for software development.

Assuming that the pure waterfall model is always a bad idea, when do you use an adapted one as an iterative or spiral model and when an agile model?

Here’s a rule of thumb: use waterfall for projects where there isn’t any invention and/or where the problem domain is well-understood, e.g., building a house, installing a server.

Use Agile for projects where the problem domain is not well-understood, e.g., creating a new software product, rewriting an existing system using a new environment (mainframe app to client-server).

A well-understood problem domain is one where the changes during the project are less than 1% of the scope.

My preference for agile projects is to use Scrum for all but the simplest projects, or Lean for cyclic projects like sustained engineering.

And, regardless of the methodology, you still have to do it right. No silver bullets here.

Book review: the 7 Habits by Stephen Covey – Habit 2 or Begin with the end in mind

This is the third in a series of articles providing a chapter-by-chapter in-depth “book club” reading of Mr. Stephen Covey’s classic “the 7th habits of highly effective people”.
I’m reading from the 2004 Free Press paperback edition. This entry covers the second habit.

The second habit is based on the principle that all things are first created mentally and then physically. As building a house, you first start to think about it, plan and visualize it, before hammering the first nail. The same can be applied to business or our own life.

The most effective way to begin with the end in mind suggested by Stephen Covey is to write a personal mission statement or philosophy. It should contain what you want to be and to do and the principles upon which are based.

It then follows some practical tips on how to write such a statement, stating that it’s not a quick task: it takes deep introspection, analysis and many rewrites. After having written it, you should review it regularly and update it if necessary.

Next: habit 3