Want Better Results from your Team? – Be more tortoise.
The hamster wheel of corporate life. So much to do, deadlines to meet, meetings to attend, projects to deliver. The hare thought speed was the secret to his success, but he lost the race.
Instead, be more tortoise. Follow your hare like sprints with time out for reflection – this is what gets the best results.
On the hamster wheel you will keep on doing what you’ve always done, eventually leading to poor, stagnant results.
Taking time out to reflect develops understanding – of what’s working, what’s not and what we could do differently. It builds our resources to innovate, create, collaborate and continuously improve.
The actions you then take are more considered, focused, specific – your sprints speed up. Less firefighting – more problem solving.
In a competitive world it’s essential that teams are agile in the face of change. This stems from their ability to learn. Learning happens in both the doing and the understanding. To understand, you must reflect. John Dewey (psychologist) said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”
Reflection isn’t just about understanding what went wrong and how you could do better, it’s about understanding what went well, so you can do more of what works. It’s honestly and non-judgmentally examining our contributions.
When you’re contained within your work environment and the pressures it presents you’re not always in the right frame of mind to pause, step back and examine with an open mind.
The work environment demands (sometimes covertly) that we demonstrate our competence, our ability to be in control and deliver. This is what is recognised and rewarded, however, this doesn’t facilitate openness.
The most effective reflection happens in a safe environment. It’s important to set the conditions for judgement and criticism to be suspended, so it’s possible to examine a situation openly and honestly. James Zull (author, the Art of Changing the Brain) said, “Even if we experience something that has happened to us before, it is hard to make meaning of it unless it engages our emotions.” He also points out that reflection is a search for connections and suggests that we have to seriously consider the role of emotion if we want to foster deep learning. Environment is an important factor in creating the conditions for connecting to emotion.
Setting the boundaries around open and honest review is essential to productive conversations – a facilitator can help to hold a space for this to happen. Some reflective conversations may get intense (in a good way), so take time to have fun together too – reinforcing trust and positive relationships to take back into the workplace.
Most importantly time for review and reflection should be built into the fabric of a teams culture, to be something which happens with regularity. This enforces the habit and builds the skill of review, so improvement becomes – continuous.
Sprints of hare like activity will get things done, but balancing this with regularly slowing down to reflect and review will ensure that the next sprint is well aligned and delivering the best result possible.