Build reflection into your processes to increase learning and improvement. Use these simple questions to facilitate an actionable planning session:
What is my (our) role and purpose?
What am I (are we) doing well that should continue or even do more of?
What am I (are we) doing that requires improvement?
What should I (we) start doing?
What should I (we) stop doing?
- everyone learns something
- innovative ideas are developed as people play off each others contribution (aka Catchball)
- plans are better aligned
- the team is more engaged in and committed to the plans that are made (and question the leaders’ awareness of what’s really going on much less)
Some Practical tips, should you try it:
- The goal is learning – the tone should be set by the leader. Prime the group with an idea of your own for each of the questions. Express your value for the activity and the good you expect to come from it. Praise some things that others are doing well, point out something under your own control you recognize needs improvement, an opportunity you’d like to see the group capitalize on, etc. Some of the leaders I’ve helped thought it was best to leave the team to work on the exercise and then return after 90 – 120 minutes to discuss their ideas.
- As a facilitator, I find it works well to project a document for recording notes and summarizing key points for each question. The participants reading the idea seems to stimulate more questions, clarification and conversation as they see the ideas summarized.
- End the session with a recap and summary of the key points and any agreements made. I have found it effective to ask members of the team to lead this.
More broadly, discussions with the word “review” in the title (also, debriefs) should honor this same reflective intent. The idea – there are lessons here that should guide our future plans and actions. Don’t limit your conversation to only the misses and opportunities. Ask, why are we experiencing the success we are having and how do we make sure it continues?