Postmortem on Progress & Lessons Learnt
Whether or not you successfully reaches your goals, it’s important to capture any lessons you learned from working on them. Once you identify these lessons, you can begin to apply them as you develop new goals or adapt existing ones.
- If a goal was too easily achieved, make future goals more challenging.
- If a goal took too much effort, make new goals a little easier. Break those hard to achieve goals into smaller more realistic goals.
- If a goal was unrealistic, make sure that new goals better reflect the available time and resources.
- If you noticed a lack of skill while pursuing a goal, make attaining those skills a goal for the future.
- If team members lost motivation, find ways to engage them in developing new goals and continually communicate the goals’ value to your unit and organization.
When you and your team evaluate and learn from your achievements and failures, you will be more successful in pursuing future objectives. With your group, think about how you can prevent “lessons learned” from becoming “lessons lost.” To apply what you learned to your next projects, you might document your experience in a “best practices” folder in your team’s database or update your project checklist to include a revised process.
Further Action Review
Evaluating outcomes can be challenging because no one wants to be responsible for failure. The U.S. Army addressed this challenge by developing the After Action Review (AAR) in the 1970s as a judgment-free way for troops to learn from successes and failures. Since then, many organizations have used this tool for assessing goal achievement.
In an After Action Review, team members ask questions such as:
- What were the desired outcomes?
- What were the actual outcomes (based on facts, not opinions or judgments)?
- What went well and why?
- What can be improved and how?
Used regularly, this kind of review process can strengthen your team and improve outcomes. Reviews often focus on failures. Be sure to evaluate and learn from success as well.