Leadership often involves a lot of small situations that shape your experiences as a leader. How you learn from these situations will go a long way to determining how effective you are as a leader. Great leaders learn from every situation and adjust their approach based upon what they learned. Here’s how to create a lessons learned structure:
- Create a lessons learned reminder list for yourself. These are reminders of situations you want to review. It’s likely you will have 1 – 3 items on your list for each day.
- For each item on your list, create a simple analysis
- Background of the situation
- What you did
- What you feel you could have done better
- A statement of the lessons you learned (This analysis is best written down because the process of writing this down can amplify the learning process)
- Hold periodic reviews of your lessons learned with your staff. Showing your lessons learned process to others can be very helpful to both you and your staff.
- Create a culture for lessons learned. Here are some essential elements for this culture:
- It’s ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from these mistakes
- Tell your staff that making decisions based upon “that’s the way we’ve always done it” is not acceptable
- Tell your staff that excessive reliance on policy statements is just an excuse for not using judgement
- Share your lessons learned widely and ask others to do the same.
- Foster an environment where people are empowered to “deviate from the norm” as long as they document why they did so and share the results with others so that they did can become the new norm.
One way to reinforce the lessons learned structure is to build it into every presentation given in the organization. The last slide of the presentation should be “Here’s What We Learned from this Effort” This can really focus the organization on making every experience one that adds value.