Looking Back on Finished Projects and Starting the Corporate Blame Game

What are the ways that a team can come together after the completion of a project and discuss what went wrong and what went great? What are the positive ways of discussing the smooth and the hairy parts of the project? How do you discuss the components of a project that went wrong without the discussion sounding like a blame throwing match?

There are two structured ways the one can conduct a project look back meeting and come out with some meaningful action items.

The Celebration Grid

The Celebration Grid created by the founder of Management 3.0 Jurgen Appelo holds promise. And this article by Louise Brace talks about how the celebration grid can be applied to have a healthy discussion about what went well during the project and what were the lessons learnt.

The Retrospective

Retrospectives is another great way to conduct a post project discussion to understand what went wrong and the participants learnt. The reason why this partcular method of looking has found success and adoption is because of the Prime Directive of retrospectives.

The prime directive says,

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.

This makes it safe for all the participants to share freely and thus positively improve the collective understanding.

Learning From Failure

In her article titled Strategies for Learning from Failure, Amy C Edmondson, talks about a spectrum of reasons of failure. Using her clearly identified types of failure can give structure to an otherwise chaotic discussion.

The problem with learning from failures is that once the blame game starts and emotions start running high, having a productive discussion goes out of question.

A Healthy Discussion Is A Must

The most important objective of every project look back must be to have a discussion where everyone feels safe to talk and convey their point of view. Talk about what they learnt and how to improve their contribution next time around.

Written on June 1, 2015