As we quickly say goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019… it’s time to pause and take some reflection. In management consulting we often call this After Action Review or Lessons Learned. This is one of the key steps in how we develop identify best practices, we look to see what worked and what didn’t work. Sounds simple? It is!
I call this the Reflections Action Review (RAR), because it’s all about some thoughts and considerations for the future. Don’t worry, I’ve got a great cheat sheet that you can download and start writing to make 2019 a better year!
Yet, many of us don’t do this because it feels like hard work. In fact, I conduct this post mortem review after every quarter. Why wait for the entire year to fix things that are not working the way I intended? It enables us to plan differently, test a new direction and pivot if we need to. Everything is an art of continuous improvement and reflection. There are lots of things that we need to celebrate.
There are four (4) different components to consider:
What worked well
We often forget to highlight our successes. The definition of success is based on our desired outcomes. Take a look of what worked well across multiple different dimensions.
- Customer Perspective – Customer refers to both internal and external customers. Did you get some really interesting feedback or were there surprising moments that made you go ‘Ah ha?’
- Processes/Tools/Systems – was there a process or system that was put in place that really helped you?
A way to look at this is to look at what was your desired outcome and what was your actual outcome. Were there any gaps?
There are many elements that worked well, that we tend to overlook. These are our secret ingredients that we must ensure that we incorporate into back into our methodologies, IP, processes etc.. We definitely don’t want to forget these key elements that were successful. Management Consultants always look for examples of what worked well to repeat. We never want to reinvent the wheel, we want to replicate that level of success as a benchmark and then continuously improve from there.
Don’t forget that sometimes, there are items that worked well but could have been done a little differently to be more effective. Future suggestions? Are there some improvement areas? What are some things that we can improve on? It could be making things more efficient, streamlining a process, using a different vendor.
What didn’t as well as we expected
What could have worked better? Are there areas that you wished the outcome had been different? If you could do it again, what would you change in hopes for a different outcome? A way to look at this is to look at what was your desired outcome and what was your actual outcome? This will help identify the gaps.
Are there some things that we should stop doing?
There are times that are time wasters. Are there some meetings that aren’t useful? Status reports that no one reads? Are there some things that we should start doing more consistently?
What are some specific actions that we can take?
These are key tactical action items. What are the actions that you want to take and by when? Are there things that are working well that we need to make more efficient?
Reflections should come in a few different dimensions and across the various phases of a particular lifecycle.
From a project perspective, what were the different phases or components. Let’s take training as an example. Training has a few different components:
- Training Needs Analysis
- Training Material Development,
- Training Delivery & Execution
You can do this for different elements of your life:
- Family Commitments
Have fun with it!
It’s great to see how far you’ve come and where you’re going. I have a cheat sheet that you can download and start writing away! 2019 is definitely going to be a different year!