One practice for creating this mindset is asking these four questions (in this order) after trying something for the first time; at the end of an event; following the launch of a new initiative, product or service; or as part of a weekly team check in.
- What did we learn?
- What did we do/how did we adapt because of what we learned?
- What did we accomplish or achieve? What were the results?
- What recommendations do you have for next time based on what we learned?
When we start with question #1, we celebrate and elevate the lessons. When we start with #3, we tend to over-emphasize results at the expense of innovation, learning and risk taking.
Try out these four questions – in this order – and see what happens.
Why THREE phases? Because we see the experience from a different perspective each time, which means we’ll also see different lessons.
So how does it work?
I use this process following significant activities/events or “firsts” (like a big media interview, your first town hall meeting as CEO, board meetings, your organization’s annual conference or big fundraising event, producing a major report, etc.).
The prompts are the same for each phase:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go so well or where can we improve?
- Ideas for next time/similar projects or events?
- Reflect alone and ask others involved to do the same. I recommend no more than 20 minutes.
- In this phase, I usually have a long list of what didn’t go so well.
Phase 2: 24 hours later
- Reflect alone and ask others involved to do the same. Again, invest another 15-20 minutes.
- In this phase, I usually have enough distance to see more solutions for what didn’t go well and I’m able to add more to the “what worked” list.
Phase 3: 1-2 weeks later
- Reflect with others. I recommend 30-45 minutes for this group debrief, depending on the size of the group.
- Different team members notice different things and the variety of perspectives add richness to the reflection.
Get started on this 3-Phase Reflection Process or try out the Four Questions. I’d love to hear what you learn!
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