Three Tips to enhance Productivity With Project Debriefing

It’s true that hindsight is always 20/20. However, few people benefit from this wisdom systematically. Take into account the last project you finished, product you shipped or goal you achieved. Did you take time to execute a thorough debrief? Many people don’t execute a debrief session because they’re already busy focusing on the next project. The objective of the debrief is to find better means of doing things next time by identifying mistakes and clarifying efficiencies. Two important outcomes of the process are:

  • To understand and store what works
  • To talk about and teach guidelines

Your debriefing session should seek to answer these questions:

  1. What worked especially well?
  2. What aspects didn’t work? What assumptions did we make? What areas needed more support?
  3. What were the largest risks we took? Did we take enough risks? How could we better plan the "surprise factor?"
  4. If money, time, and resources weren’t one factor, what would we do differently? What features, benefits, or "goodies" would we enhance the event? Describe in vivid detail this ideal scene with regard to wild success and flawless execution.

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To achieve the most out of the sort of postmortem review, gather some individuals who done the project, sit around a table, and consider the following advice.

1. Adopt a learner’s mindset. "Better next time" will not indicate we didn’t do our best this time around. This is important, specifically for founders, companies and entrepreneurs. One reason some individuals have a tendency to avoid the debrief is due to their concentrate on results and momentum. If something went well, they’re already to the the next thing. And, if something failed, they usually make an effort to fix, constitute and move on as quickly as possible.

Tennis pro Roger Federer said once, "If you are winning, and things ‘re going well, is the foremost time to question yourself." When you begin the next project debrief, remind yourself, as well as your team, that the feedback you bring to the discussion pays to now, for the project completed, and for another project you are going to take on.

2. Make a post-project checklist. Get yourself a few individuals who were mixed up in project together in an area and create a multipoint action list — post project. If you’ll ever do that project, or one enjoy it again, this is the time to learn from days gone by experience.

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Perhaps you have read Atul Gawande’s book, The Checklist Manifesto (Metropolitan Books, 2009)? If not, run, don’t walk, and get yourself a copy. At least read a number of the reviews on the web. I really like the Wikipedia definition of the term: A checklist is a kind of informational job aid used to lessen failure by compensating for potential limits of human memory and attention. It can help to make sure consistency and completeness in following a task.

3. Communicate your debriefing results effectively. Another project you focus on will go a lot more smoothly, particularly if your debriefing with people you will be working with again. During the project, whether it had been only a week-long effort or a lot longer, you without doubt had discussions (personally, via phone, or online) and had a need to communicate as effectively as possible.

Remember there are numerous techniques people communicate. Some typically common strengths are: Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic.

  • Auditory means that, people have to hear it and have to say it, to get it. In a debrief, they have to feel "heard," and that their ideas and feedback is accepted and valued.
  • Visual means people prefer to "see" their ideas. Throughout a feedback session, if someone says, "Well, Jason, just how I saw it go was…" I immediately walk to a flip chart or white board and draw a diagram, take up a mind map, or at least write a list. They prefer to see their ideas.
  • Kinesthetic people have to touch, hold and "get" that their feedback has been entered, and it may be used again the next time. As a kinesthetic learner, I love to have a hard-copy of the checklist we made, and frequently I’ll even make it right into a laminated template that I could write on the next time we’re owning a similar project.
  • Utilize the debriefing session as a chance to learn, and grow, and think bigger. Acknowledge completion of your last project, celebrate the win (if there is one) and move on, prepared to make your very best efforts even better the next time.

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