How often have you reviewed a project with your team and asked:
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What lessons have we learned?
With these questions, I noticed people’s responses don’t get to the nitty gritty of what happened.
I also noticed people go through the motions, are usually pleased to be together and discussing their work, but rarely have we discovered significant lessons. We might make minor adjustments to how we work, yet I notice the same mistakes are often repeated with the next project. We haven’t built on what we learned.
One of my best clients has a wonderful brief: make the lessons learned sessions inspiring, so people clamour to come to the debriefs, and we truly learn as an organisation.
We discussed what creates inspiring meetings. What really enables people to engage with one another and have relevant conversations?
Reviewing our earlier questions, I felt tired just listening to the questions. Why was that? The question, ‘what worked?’ invites an intellectual or analytic response. Anyone can make an assessment, and avoid discussing our insights, how we feel and what we think about our work together.
How might we tap into people’s experience of being on the project? How can we discover our insights, our subsequent thoughts of what was valuable and what we might do differently next time? What questions enable everyone involved to contribute, to really engage in conversations with one another?
Most of us are busy with a lot going on. Taking the time to think and reflect on how we are working together is important. How might we ensure we have satisfying and valuable conversations?
The most satisfying conversations are ones which enable people to reflect on their experience and share insights for the future.
- What was the most important part of the project for you?
- What was your greatest disappointment with the project?
- What are you proud of with what has been produced?
- What was the thing that bothered you the most?
- What is the key message you want to communicate to your colleagues about this project?
These questions are personal, to you. With these questions people can decide if they share from their organisation’s perspective, from their role, from their personal experience, or all three. The diverse experience and insights within the group unfolds.
Questions that value people’s experience generate lively conversations.
Lessons learned emerge readily and are associated with shared experiences. Being associated with people’s personal experiences rather than their theoretical analysis, lessons are remembered and built on.
What questions do you design to invite vibrant conversations and truly engage with those around you?
© Diana Jones