Look Back to Move Forward with Renewed Energy

Another post from Dale Emery:

Walking to the Horizon

Dale talks about the frustration and exhaustion he feels when there isn’t an “end” in view:

One day a metaphor popped into my head. I’m trying to walk to the horizon. For every step I take, the horizon recedes by exactly one step. No matter how far I walk, I’m never any closer to my goal.

“Good grief!” I thought. “No wonder I’m tired!”

Then I had an idea. Whenever I notice that walking-to-the-horizon feeling, I can turn around and look back at where I’ve been. I can notice the tiny steps I made yesterday, the good deed I did the day before that, the major accomplishment I scored just last month. When I realize just how far I’ve come, I can take a breath, enjoy the moment, and smile with satisfaction at the journey I’ve made so far. Then I can take the next step with renewed hope and energy.

Dale is talking about process improvement, but I see this in project work, too. Projects, by nature, have an “end,” though some times it takes much longer to get there than advertised. And project teams become frustrated and tired when they go from one project to the next with out pausing to look back.

Looking back, in the form of a Project Retrospective helps the team move forward:

Individuals and the group:

— look back and see what they have learned, the problems they solved, and what they created. Even on failed projects (may especially on failed or cancelled projects), the team can consolidate a sense of accomplishment.

— reflect on what worked well and what didn’t work well. They can look at actions and interactions worked or didn’t work and make more conscious choices to act effectively in the future.

— agree on changes that the team believes will increase their chance of success on the next project.

Retrospectives help people harvest what they’ve learned, bring closure, and create energy for moving forward.