Leverage the group’s power to improve by pausing, reflecting and taking actions for improvement
Reflect silently on the event or time period:
Ask the group to take 3-5 minutes to look backwards and reflect on the event (e.g. a meeting, a workshop) or time period (e.g. the last two weeks or month), and in silence write down their answers to the following 4 questions:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go so well?
- What did I learn?
- What still puzzles me?
In other words, what took place that we want to recognise and acknowledge as having gone well?
What took place that didn’t go as we would have liked?
We want to think about what we’ve learned about how we worked together. It’s less about the content and more about the process.
This question allows us to capture things that happened but leave us feeling unclear or puzzled.
Remind the participants that:
- They may not have answers for every question – that’s okay.
- They should only consider what happened and avoid identifying suggestions of what to do in the future… that’s for later.
- They should be succinct in their answers so we can share them quickly and keep the energy levels up in the next step.
Share with the group and consolidate the answers:
Now we want the group to share their answers with everyone. One by one, go around the room and have each person share their answers. Some people like to focus on the first question before moving on to the next question. As people share their answers, capture them in a centrally visible location, such as a whiteboard or flipchart paper on the walls around the room. There’s no need to capture duplicates.
Select a few valuable areas to make improvements:
Now everyone can see all the answers provided, as a group, we want to identify a few high value items to work on – but only a few. Why? Because there’s only so much change we can take on at a time – 3-5 items is usually a good amount.
Identify actions that will lead to team improvement:
Up until now, everything we’ve done has been about looking backwards. We’ve looked back over the specific event or time period and reflected on what happened. Now it’s time to look forward. What do we want to do differently next time in order to improve? For each of the items selected in step 3, the group should agree an action that can be taken to make an improvement. It’s only through doing something that change is possible. This action should be something within the control of the team. Request volunteers for a champion – it’s worth making clear that the champion isn’t necessarily the person who will do the action. Often they are simply the person who will be the conscience of the team to make sure the action is taken.
Give it a Try
Working in groups can be productive and rewarding, but nothing beats getting better and better. In your next team meeting, reserve some time at the end to do a retrospective as described here. It could be on the meeting itself, or perhaps looking at how things have been going over the last couple of weeks. You might be surprised what improvements are lurking just around the corner, ready to take you and the team to the next level!
Why Does it Work?