Weekly reviews are where we turn failure into learning experiences. They’re postmortems of the week, and they should be very focused on the things we should do differently (or more of) next time.
They don’t have to be huge. In fact, one would hope we don’t have massive learning experiences every single week. But there are usually little things we can take away from a lot of what goes on day to day, and taking the time to actively think about it (and maybe make some notes) will help us next week.
I like to divide my reviews into three categories:
- The “WTF just happened?” (WTF)
- The “oh, come on!” (OCO)
- The “better luck next time” (BLUNT)
WTF is for things we weren’t expecting. In our review, we ask:
- Should we have been expecting that? Were we surprised by something that should have been obvious? How come?
- How did we handle it, and could we have done that better?
For example, maybe we got some not-so-great feedback from a colleague. Was it a surprise? Why? How did we and the colleague end up having different views about the same events? And how did we handle it? Did we fly off the handle? Did we dismiss it out of hand? Or did we say “thank you” and go away to think about it for a bit?
“Oh, come on” is for things that frustrated us. Maybe our technology was being difficult. Maybe a colleague was being unhelpful. Maybe we just couldn’t make any sense of a new thing we’re learning.
What could we do better next time? What did we learn about getting technology – or colleagues – working, and did we take notes? Did we share them with people who might be having the same issues soon? Could we have approached the process differently – maybe RTFMed, or asked for help earlier, or made a plan before we started?
BLUNT is for out and out failures. Missed deadlines, terrible results, a conversation that turned into a fight. Reviewing these may take a while, and will probably be uncomfortable.
But BLUNT is also for our successes. How did we do such an awesome job? How can we increase the chances of doing that again? Did we take time to celebrate? Can we share any of these lessons? Can we take the rest of the afternoon off? These are important questions, and we should take time to answer them, because having notes about how to do well can help us next time we sense things are going wrong.