My Analysis Process: APD(P)

Nathaniel Elliott APD

I am often asked to analyze businesses, teams, and/or individuals to see how the processes they work in can be improved. Every consultant (internal or external) has their way of doing this type of work, but over the years I have solidified the method that I take, and the results have created strong wins over and over again for the groups that I work with. It is crucial to apply the following method in an agile approach as it iterates on itself as you go through it. Here is the process at a high level that I work through in each scenario that you can start applying immediately:

  1. Analyze – Analyze the situation that is at hand through 1:1 conversations, focus groups, and open retrospectives with the members that are part of the business or team. Finding and defining the problems at hand is crucial in this step.
  2. Prioritize – Work with those involved to prioritize the output from the analyzation so that those folks take the ownership of the findings and what impact needs to be. Looking for quick wins helps define what problems come first.
  3. Do (Produce) – Build an implementation method with SMART action items. When creating this, each item must have systematic owners who are responsible for making sure it moves forward which will help lead the change that came from the initial step.

This method for analysis was built off of my tag in life: creatively, executing, ideas… Everyone has excellent views and practices to do this work, but I have seen many consulting firms build out an excellent analysis of teams and yet forget that there is ownership and producing that must come as well. Analyzing businesses, teams, and individuals must produce results, not just the document stating the facts. The team needs to own this and deliver the wins/execute on the changes that were built out creatively. Be agile in the application of this, see what works and doesn’t. For example…

Sometimes I call it the APD method or APP method depending on the group that I am working on since “doing” may be the output required while other times “producing” may be the critical component. Building out an analysis works on many levels but needs to be continually done and not a one-time act. And in short, it can be applied to you as an individual as well!

Starting the Morning Right

Fabulous App

For the last few months, I’ve been working on “habits” both personally and professionally. Purposeful habit-building has been an area for me that does not come naturally and yet, this tool/application fit perfectly into my routine. It talks about creating these keystone habits that you build on throughout the rest of your life. For example, if you take this journey, you’ll start with one habit: drinking water when you first wake up. At first, it seemed like a simple item to implement into my life, and it was, but turning it into a habit was a different story. It worked me through setting up a trigger to do so, setting my water out the night before, and a few other actions like “celebrate” when completing.

I know that you may be thinking, this is simple and not for me, but I would encourage you, these things add up to be influential in life quickly. If you are interested in trying out the tool, here is the email you would receive from me if I were to send the invite (and no, I don’t get any referral for it that I am aware of):

Check this out, great app for building healthy habits.

I thought of you while reading an article in this new app I downloaded called Fabulous created by researchers at Duke University. I’m using it to build new habits.

I thought it might be fun to use the app together and hold each other accountable.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Having an accountability buddy is like taking a friend to the gym. It turns an otherwise difficult and boring chore into a fun and social outing. You’ll encourage each other to do better and end up going more often because you’re holding each other accountable.”

You can get it here if you want to partner up!

Let me know what you decide and how you are working on your personal & professional habits! I ended up paying for the service because of the high value I found from it after a few weeks. And, the journey is just starting. I am now working not only on my morning routine but also my eating routine, exercise

The Materials Today

Every day I aim to learn something new and gain more understanding both personally and in business. The books that stick out right now which are pushing me forward are listed here:

  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – I am working through this book with my team at Inovalon to understand not only our jobs and roles within the organization but also as a tool to have more apparent communication/influence since it all starts with “why”.
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – I’ve been listening to this on a daily basis (the audiobook through google) and have fallen in love as I am working on personal habits like exercise, sleep, productivity, and much more. But, the book uses how habits form on a personal level to explain how organizational patterns are developed and how you could influence corporations to choose the right keystone habits.
  • A Walk Across America – Right now there is a significant pull towards adventure in everything I do. My father-in-law knew this and bought this book for me plan out my next long weekend on the Appalachian Trail and a possible climb on Mt. Rainer.
  • The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day – One of the best journals I’ve had in a long time. Or, maybe the best ever since I don’t journal. But as I work through building out my mission in life and goals, I have been watching high performing people and learning the habits they focus on. These habits often have an early morning with journaling as a ritual. I’ll talk more about rituals in future posts!

Let me know what books I should check out to keep my learning and being more productive in my life! Here are the cover of the books to help you find them (and yes help support this site and free information).



Managing Time – Especially while Training

Nathaniel Elliott Time Tracking Tool

There have been many updates to my life since I last posted a blog, but it doesn’t negate the fact that time must be managed. One of the major updates in my career at the moment revolves around leading classes specific to agile methodologies (scrum, kanban, SAFe, and others). With that, there has always been a goal of live conversation and feedback during a class which can make time hard to manage while engaging the participants as well! What did I do to fix that? I created three key points to check against when taking questions during presentations as well as a tool in excel to help me manage the time well. Yes, I am all for timeboxing but what about when things are a bit more fluid than that? I ask myself (and sometimes the group) the following three things before going down a rabbit trail:

  • Does this help the group learn and apply what we are discussing?
  • Can we answer this as a group at a different time?
  • Is it helpful to remove time from another area of the presentation to handle this now?

When this conversation has happened, and I do a vote by class, I need to figure out how to keep managing my time moving forward! Below is the excel spreadsheet I created to help me achieve the flow (with delays) that often happens!

Excel Document: TimeDoc

Inspiring TED Talks to See

Sometimes you may need a quick “inspiration” and that is what I was looking for. In short, it is simply time to follow my passions of entrepreneurship. I quit my job, finished out my last day on Friday and will be consulting 20 hours a week with the other 20 fully vested into being an entrepreneur. It is time and this link helped!

Working out in the AM?

Recently, I have been trying to analyze why I like working out in the morning. For me, it helps my day ‘go smoother’ and stay more focused. But why?

“If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF(Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and like things are clear after exercising. At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released in your brain…”

Full Article: What Happens to Our Brains During Exercise (and Why it Makes Us Happier)

Until I read this article, I didn’t realize why working out even made a difference with my mindset. Nor did I realize why a simple walk would be so soothing and relaxing for the mind. What do you do as a mental exercise / physical exercise to sooth your day?

Simple Helpful

Often people forget the importance of remembering those ‘little things’ that we all need to remember. Especially when it comes to passwords, tutorials, cool websites, ideas, and other nonsense.

Until recently, I hadn’t found a way to keep all of these things in order until @flakblas introduced me to the two following programs. I completely recommend these two programs for a simple knowledge base and password safe. They are easy to set up and you can keep them in your Dropbox so that they go where ever you are. Let me know if you have any other ideas for productivity and note taking!

  • TiddlyWiki – TiddlyWiki is a reusable non-linear personal web notebook. It’s a unique wiki that people around the world love using to keep ideas and information organised.
  • Keepass – KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database.
  • And, because I store both of these in one spot, Dropbox


Now, here are my ideas for news aggregation, please let me know if you have any ideas for this: (From early blog post)

The world of news is endless and in many ways there is a sense of news overload. But, yesterday someone did ask what websites I watched for technology related to Randomly Famous, LLC. Here is my short list of websites that I check on a more regular basis, in no particular order. I do want to say though, news is news and needs to be filtered because some of the content isn’t news worthy. This is no perfect list so if you have suggestions, please let me know, I am truly trying to learn more about filtering the good news vs. the bad news. Plus, looking for aggregation tools, new sites to check out, and so on. Fill me in below!

And for the news, generalized:

Now, tell me more things for this list! Even your personal sites that are brilliant, I want to hear them all and will personally check them out!


A Breakfast Business

An early morning came and breakfast at McDonalds was inevitable. So, Mark (@Flakblas) and I met up, had breakfast, and chatted life with a mixing bowl of business.

Recently, he has been introducing me to a few new tools that I am now addicted to that I will list at the bottom of this blog, but he also has a business sense that intermixed with my thought processing.  It started with the service at McDonalds and ended on the inflation of mobile application prices.

The price of these applications has extended beyond the normal price model that we have for business retail. And, to be honest, that is one reason I’ve launched Randomly Famous, LLC into the mix as well.

It is just a matter of time until this bubble has burst and the true price is found but those entrepreneurs / venture capitalist that latch on now, will forever be grateful. So, with this consistent change of pace in the world of business, I’ve needed to find myself a tool that organizes my knowledge base.

And finally, Mark has introduced me to it in his blog post called Tiddlywiki. There are so many benefits to this simple program and the mix of Dropbox. It has taken my quick changing mindset and has allowed me to write each idea out for mobile applications to future retail stores in one central location.

You will see how simple it is after you download it and play around. I promise you, if you are an entrepreneur, you will be in love. We often forget our past ideas when new ones come along like a mobile application business. This simple html + javascript allows us to always remember and return to the original ideas. It simply allows us to:

  1. Contemplate our ideas
  2. Expand on thought processing
  3. Take advantage of the mobile application market
  4. And remember how / when it took place so we can repeat in the future

Check it out, download it, and say thanks to Mark for making me try it and allowing me to put aside ideas for a moment and race after the market in front. If I didn’t have this tool, I might have lost out on where I was in my knowledge base.

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