Are you building a learning organization? Here is one thing you should always do.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup surprised all of us with the unexpected turn of events and shocking results. Millions of fans gathered in the stadium and in front of the screens to watch the game, the extra time and the penalty shootouts and to support their favorites. Tournaments like the World Cup are an exhilarating experience for fans and they offer some key learning points for leaders and project managers as well.
One of my favorite parts is the interviews with the team captains, players and coaches after the game. Reporters ask both teams about the game, the other team and their performance in a highly emotional moment. When you watch carefully, you notice that the responses and attitudes tell a lot about the personality and the maturity of the people.
Do you know what happens after each game and even after each training? Deep learning through video analysis, team discussion and self-evaluation. Teams, coaches and outside experts analyze situations, teamwork and individual players. They highlight strengths and address areas for improvement.
Businesses are no different from soccer teams when it comes to building a learning team and a learning organization. In consulting, when a project ends, we tend to quickly move onto the next one. However, one important event that should always take place before that happens is the post-mortem.
During the retrospective evaluation, ask the questions:
Was it a successful project? Why? Why not?
What went well and what should we avoid next time?
What did we learn from this project that we could share with others internally?
Remember that sport teams give interview and evaluate the game when they lose and when they win. Identifying and analyzing successes and failures are equally important. Standardizing this process and ensuring that all your project managers and engagement leads complete this step is crucial to create a learning organization. No matter if it was a small discovery project or a large transformation with high stakes, there is always opportunity to do it better next time. We need to pull the team together for a genuine learning exercise instead of letting people disconnect and starting to chase the next engagement right away.
Ideally, the post-mortem takes place a few days after the project ends. Engagement leads should distribute an agenda so team members can collect their thoughts beforehand and provide their honest and constructive feedback. Since it is for the benefit of the individual, the team and the entire organization, leaders need to establish a safe environment with no blame game, violence or silence accepted. Document the insights and action items and share them with your team as well as others that might benefit from your learning experience. Over time, this single process will yield in dramatic and measurable improvement in building team cohesion and project delivery.
Oh and one more thing, don’t forget to arrange the coffee and donuts (morning) or beer and pizza (afternoon) for your team!
How do you develop your team and your organization? How do you cultivate a learning culture?