Lessons Learned: How to Thrive During Uncertain Times
Updated: Aug 31, 2020
Throughout the pandemic and these times of uncertainty, we’ve seen various industries defaulting to panic mode. They don’t know what to do or what’s coming next, so they hold their breath, make decisions in the moment and hope for the best. Moving from one thing to the next without strategy has left these employees increasingly tired and unmotivated.
In the technology world, we have a phrase for this practice that we hear multiple times a day: Firefighting. Firefighting means you’re spending your day putting out one fire after, always moving to the next issue with no time to plan ahead or create solid solutions for the future.
Being stuck in this firefighting mode comes with a big problem: burnout. Always having something to do is fun at first; it feels like you’re coming in as a hero and fixing the problem. Then reality hits. You aren’t getting anything done, you’re just bouncing around from one thing to the next and creating recurring problems. Fortunately, there’s a way to stop this, and that’s where Lessons Learned comes in.
Lessons Learned is one of those phrases that we see thrown around anecdotally, but rarely is it actually used in practice. This is a pity because learning from your mistakes is what differentiates people who thrive during stress versus people who simply get through it.
In an unprecedented and often difficult time like this, you have to make sure you come out on top. Here’s how: whenever you triage and fix an issue, you MUST schedule time to talk about it later. This is called a Lessons Learned. You will ask these three questions during the follow up:
What went well?
What went poorly?
What actions do we have to take?
Let’s look at these questions in more detail and explore how you can do it in practice. Implementing this Lessons Learned process will put you ahead of your competition when it comes to overcoming business challenges that have resulted from the pandemic.
What went well?
During this question, you will mark down the things you always want to do. Remind your staff and yourself of what you consistently do well and what you want to continue doing.
What went poorly?
What hindered your progress? You want to mark down what would have led to a better resolution.
What action items do we have?
This is where you take action! Take what went well and document it so you can do it again. Take what went poorly and make sure it does not happen next time. Maybe you need a tool, maybe you need better communication, or maybe you need better strategy. Whatever it is, identify it and then put it into action.
This may seem obvious and overly simplistic, but here is the problem: if it’s so easy, why haven’t you been doing it? There’s no better time to implement this process than right now, because COVID-19 is still in full swing and issues will continue to arise and increase. You can answer these three questions in less than five minutes, but you often choose to not. One of the biggest reasons is that you plan to do it “someday”. “Someday” means you have no real plan.
So, here is the trick — you must schedule your Lessons Learned and dedicate an adequate amount of time to it. They MUST be on your calendar as soon as you finish troubleshooting, which means it needs to be part of your normal troubleshooting process.
It doesn't matter if it takes minutes and you jot down a few notes, or if it is an hour long meeting with multiple departments. However, you need to do it every time there is a problem.
This is the main action item from your first Lessons Learned. Start implementing this three-step plan and stop putting out fires. Although this is a challenging time, you can still thrive!
Need additional assistance in applying this practice to your process? Check out this live webinar where we will walkthrough everything you need to know and have to deliver world-class lessons learned.