The frenetic pace of work life seems to continue to increase. We move from one project to another and multi-task as much as we can.
One of the casualties of this hectic pace is – learning from our experiences. Yet, we know that future success is greatly dependent upon making sure that individuals, teams, and organizations learn from successes and failures of their efforts.
At the team level, one tool that many people know about but fail to implement (“there is not enough time!”) are After Action Reviews. There are more elaborate ways of conducting AARs, but I suggest a simple process of taking just thirty minutes after a team has finished a project and asking three questions:
*What didn’t work?
*What can we learn from these experiences that we can use in the future?
It is vital that you develop a team culture of candor in these sessions. Even a successful project usually includes aspects that did not work. People have to be willing to have their errors exposed – especially the bosses.
At the individual level a great tool to employ is a Learning Journal. Again, this does not have to be anything fancy. Take 15-20 minutes at the end of the work week and look back over your calendar and reflect upon your various activities. Ask yourself the same questions, what did you do that worked, what didn’t work, and what can you learn from these.
Make a weekly recording of what you learned – just take some simple notes. Pretty quickly you will have a nice list of learnings that you can look back over. Not only will this engrain the learning in you more effectively, it will help you realize that you are actually learning and progressing! Work life is often so fast that we can feel like we are on the proverbial hamster wheel rather than making actually progress.
Management Guru Tom Peters once said that “learning faster” is the key to success in the future. After Action Reviews and Learning Journals are two tools to help you learn faster and make even more of a Mission Impact.