Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year End Reflection

By Al Norval

As we approach year end, many organizations reflect back on the accomplishments of the year, especially what business results were achieved. While this is admirable, it can sometimes amount to rubber stamping. Everyone draws from their list of excuses and talks about how things are going to get better next year but no one gets to the root of the real problems that are dragging their business results down. We call this happy talk.

True reflection not only looks at the business results that we either did or didn’t achieve, it goes deeper and looks at the plans we made and asks the following questions:

  1. Did we achieve the results we predicted in our plans?
  2. Did we execute the plans on time?
  3. Did the execution of the plans give us the predicted results?

The key is to continually go back and test the original hypothesis. That’s the hypothesis we set at the beginning of the year; that the execution of these plans will give us these results.

The beauty of a hypothesis is that it’s binary and the questions we ask around it are binary. Being Yes/ No is very powerful in cutting through “Happy Talk” and getting to the real problems that are holding us back. No grey areas, no “yes buts”, just the facts. It makes for a very powerful dialogue that enables teams to address the real problems the business is facing.

This dialogue truly does drive relentless continuous improvement.


1 comment:

  1. In addition to yes/no hypothesis testing there is another important question:
    What did we learn?

    One of the key functions of a definite hypothesis (or plan) is that it gives clarity to unexpected outcomes.

    When things don't turn out the way we expected that's when we really learn. It turns out our best thinking was wrong - so what did happen? Why? How can we put this new knowledge to work?