Keeping Our Reviews Balanced for Learning

It's been a long couple of weeks since the last post (April 23) when I promised to provide the next 2 W's of a balanced review.  Oh well, hopefully it gave you some more time to practice the first "W" of What Went Well.  Since the last post, my wife and I have both had birthdays.  We were both surprised and thankful for all of those who took the time via Facebook and emails as well as cards which showed their kind thoughts toward us.  What about you?  What has gone well for you these past few weeks?  As our pastor, Brady Boyd says, when we look back and remember, it makes us joyful as we think of all the good memories we have.  He suggests we deliberately take time to create lasting memories with our children, friends and loved ones so it will be easy for them to recall the "good times".  So on to the second "W" to review.  

What didn't go so well?  - Remember it is "what" did not go so well, not "Who".  Reviews aren't to blame someone, and this can be dangerous.  Leave that to the media who are focused on finding a scapegoat for failures.  Our role when we review is to focus on what did and did not go well so we can learn, not blame.  I have found that when we criticize people, they tend to be filled with guilt, shame or get defensive and aggressive.  None of these behaviours generally leads to learning or balanced review.  At best it leads to an argument, and at worst severely damages the relationship if not the reason why we are reviewing in the first place.  A blame culture or name and shame culture rarely leads to an engaged team or working group.  

One project I am currently working on and leading the review involves setting and reviewing action steps each of us agreed from the last meeting.  If I were to get into blaming someone for not doing what they said they would do, as they are co-leaders of the project, it would get us nowhere.  It's much better to say after the first "W", What went well, to then ask, "What, if anything did not go so well?" The response then puts the responsibility where it belongs with them to be critical of their own actions.  Again, experience shows people generally are more critical of themselves than we are of them if we create the right environment for them to look at their own behaviour and actions.  Next session, we shall cover the last part of conducting a balanced review -- the third "W".  In the meantime, when you review some activity or meeting you are in, focus on the first two "W's" and see what you have learned from using them.