Complex Lives Pt 1: Jessica’s Future In Progress

Jim BensonFeatured, Primers3 Comments

Ready –> Doing –> Done

Life presents us with opportunities, and so we’ve no choice but to take on concurrent projects. Unfortunately they don’t always conform to that simple Ready –> Doing –> Done value stream.

Last month I was in San Francisco giving lectures on Personal Kanban at Stanford and Keller. My host for the trip was my good friend Jessica. Jessica is a single mom. She  has two jobs on opposite ends of the Bay. She  is studying for her financial advisor certification. She is training for a triathlon.

Jessica has a lot to keep track of.

As a mathematician and an expert in intangible assets, it was not a big leap for Jessica to recognize: (1) she had so much on her plate that busting her WIP limit was guaranteed, and (2) making money was only one asset out of many she had to devote time to.

So on a sunny Sunday morning at a coffee shop, the simple question “Do you want to talk a little about your Personal Kanban” quickly turned into a 2.5 hour conversation. We discussed what she valued, what her goals were.

It soon became clear that Jessica is not simply goal-oriented, she’s a goal-collector. So we needed to get that under control. Goals are awesome, but when they start generating more tasks than we can handle – they need to be tamed.

We agreed she needed more than a WIP Limit – she needed a FIP limit. Future In Progress. She had the triathlon, the certification, a book she wanted to write, and more. It made sense to pick two and (no pun intended) run with them. The triathlon enforced health and working out, so we couldn’t say no to that. The certification was immediately necessary for her job and short-term. So that too was obvious. The others, went into the FIP queue.

Jessica now had a FIP limit of two.

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Jim BensonComplex Lives Pt 1: Jessica’s Future In Progress

3 Comments on “Complex Lives Pt 1: Jessica’s Future In Progress”

  1. Maritza van den Heuvel

    What a great idea! I think I may just incorporate it into my own Personal Kanban. My StrengthsFinder clearly puts Achiever as the first of my skills and I tend to collect goals, too. Not taking on more than I can handle is always something I must guard against.

  2. Stephen Smith

    This is a powerful post, thank you for sharing it. I tend to collect goals, and set too many tasks for myself. I have had a very hard time this year, as I was far too aggressive in my annual planning. Now that half of the year is behind us, I feel very much behind the 8-ball in terms of the goals I had set for myself.
    More limits, more discipline, more tasks completed and goals reached. Words to live by…

  3. belette

    I just finished to read the Personal Kanban book and realized that here you speak about the same story as in your book.
    Could you clarify a little bit about the FIP methodology? I am not quite sure how to apply it against the WIP.
    Do you put some tasks to limit the future projects you’ll work on it and so how does it interact with your backlog (which is also future tasks)
    Many thanks!

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