Views From Above

Sometimes it’s hard to get where you’re going if you forget where you’ve been. In business, a form of this maxim is described by the process of Modern Business Management. It involves staying tuned into your company, into the procedures and goals, and making sure you remember to think on how things have been going. By avoiding falling into either celebration or agony related to what’s happened, you instead focus on how things happened, and why. Every parent knows why is a very useful question, even if it’s tough to answer sometimes.

One way to formalize this process is to start with an ambitious goal, and something significant to your business. The more concrete the goal, the better. Then develop a method that you think will allow your company to achieve it. Spend some time on this, and question that method rigorously to refine it in the best way you can come up with. Make sure to include metrics or other observable data that will let you and your people know how they’re doing as they strive for the goal. Then, go for it. Use the goal, and the metrics you’ve established, to constantly diagnose your progress. See what’s working, see what isn’t. Refine, change, and use the power of why to get where you want to be by knowing where you’ve been.

Key Points:

  • 1Focus on a wildly important goal that makes a significant impact on the success of your organization
  • 2Focus on what you can change by forming a hypothesis
  • 3Link a faster moving metric to provide an advance indicator

Left uncultivated, the retrospective quickly turns into a very shallow discussion of recent irritations and small successes, leading to what Dr. W. Edwards Deming called ‘tampering’ – short term action on a relatively stable system.

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