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Reporting Your Lessons Learned

The tough times come and the tough times go.  Sometimes we’re so relieved when that high and violent tide recedes that we simply run down the beach away from the leftover debris.  I was sharing reflections with a client recently on a particularly long and tough period for his organization and we talked about several areas to tackle coming out of the storm.  Restoring the confidence of a number of board members (the silent minority of an unknown size who were shaken by the events) was on the top of the list so we approached it from a transparent “lessons learned” angle.  Here’s a very simple report format that everyone can relate to.  It displays transparency plus the wisdom that some people get from challenges. 

o   The Event or Situation – not a rehash of the story, but a “headline,” short and objectively stated

o   Lesson Learned – broadly stated, what did we learn about people (ours or outsiders) or action including inaction or early action, or risks and incentives, or how our management systems work, or where our attention is drawn.

o   Can the lesson lead to changes? – Not all do immediately, and the immediate one may have costs of its own, but leaders see action in response to adversity so what do you see?

o   If “yes,” what are the strategies we can implement now.

Demonstrating that we’ve learned from the inevitable downturns and showing the guts to report it will restore confidence in your leadership, and the pause to document it will launch some meaningful restorative and preventative strategies.  Not as simple as a walk on the beach but a great way to watch the tide go out.