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Change: Before, During, After

Source: jscreationzs

Source: jscreationzs

When planning to move forward with a change that will impact your colleagues, it is important to remember that you must manage what comes before the change, during the change, and after the change.

Before

Before you proceed with changing a process, a tool, or anything else, you have to keep in mind that the more informed the others are, the better. In times of change, people need to feel safe in what’s coming and the more unknown their is, the less safe they will feel. Therefore, explain the reasons of the change, the plan, and how they will be supported not only throughout the change, but after.

Make sure people can ask questions or talk to someone to express their concerns or their ideas. How you communicate with colleagues at this stage will give them a first impression on what’s coming, and you want to make sure they have a good first impression in order to reduce resistance.

Another important aspect to plan before the change occur is training the other, and prepare the proper documentation for them (i.e. tutorials). This could range from preparing them on how a new process will work, to teaching them how to use a new tool.

During

While you are in the midst of your change, this is where many questions will come up since people will start to be actively affected by the change. It’s also when the most frustration or confusion can rise so it’s important to make sure people know they can contact someone who will give them prompt support.

There is also a time where you might need to adjust your change (change the change!). With more people coming onboard, you may find out that there is a flaw in the process that needs to be tweaked, or the tutorial created wasn’t as clear as you thought. Adjust this immediately, people will appreciate that these are being adjusted to accommodate them or improve what is happening.

After

Once the change is completed, a bad habit is to think it’s all over and you can “let go”. That is far from true. Even with a proper training and several questions answered, people will need a good amount of support for a while, and it’s important to still give prompt support as it happens. Fortunately, as time passes, support needed will reduce.

Lastly, like any project, it is a very good practice to have a lessons learned meeting and assess what to improve for next time. It’s also very important to gather feedback from the others to find out how they thought the experience was and how it could be better.


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The project went well, why bother talking about it?

English: Symbol "thumbs up", great

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Many waste great opportunities to gather very valuable information by taking projects that went well for granted. A typical saying is “The project went well, why bother talking about it?”, which is important to prevent, otherwise you may waste precious lessons you can apply elsewhere.

Projects that went well means that events/actions/etc. occurred which made it go well. So what exactly helped here? Identify all the positive elements of the project and make sure you get to the root of that positivity. By that, I mean, avoid being vague like “we had a great team working on this”. The root of this might be that the team has worked a lot together in the past and communicate greatly.

Once all this is gathered, figure out what can be applied to other projects, and make sure it’s actionnable.

For example, if a project went well because the client supplied everything on time, and you identify that the client was reminded weekly, with a simple list of what to deliver and when, then how about applying this technique with other clients?

Have a lessons learned meeting even for positive projects; they are just as important as any other lessons learned mettings where you can make sure to learn from the project.


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5 tips for good “Lessons learned” meetings

Lessons learned are an important part of any person/team’s evolution, it’s how you assess what happened , and identify clear ways to become better.

This meeting is often underestimated, even skipped, which prevents people from learning more than they should.

Here are some tips for a better “Lessons learned” meeting:

1. Take notes throughout the meeting

While you manage your project, you will probably wished some events went differently. It could be how you made your schedule, how the team developed a particular module that went wrong, or anything else.

It’s important to note them as they happen so you do not forget them, and note any ideas you might have right away to make it better next time. Don’t worry if some elements do not have solutions associated with them, what’s important is to be able to go through those items with the team while you are doing your meeting so they can contribute.

2. Plan the meeting not later than 10 days after the project

The idea behind this tip is not to wait too much so the team can remember what happened enough to contribute.

What’s important about having a specific objective (10 days), is that it will prevent you from postponing the meeting or simply not doing it because “you don’t have time”.

3. Make it clear

I may sound like a broken record with the “clear” thing, but, that’s how you can make your projects better!

Here, what’s important is to find clear actionable tasks that must be done (or not done) to improve.

Let’s take a scenario where many users complained about errors on a website and you want to list how we can avoid this next time:
Bad way: Test more before deployment
Good way: Plan 2 testing rounds, one to find errors so you can fix them, a second time to make sure everything was fixed probably

See the difference? One can be planned, done, and then improved again. The other one is too vague, which will either be done incorrectly, or not done at all in the end.

4. Include everyone who participated

Use your judgement with this one, if you have a 40 people team, you want to avoid overcrowding your meeting.

You want to make sure you gather as much feedback from every role as possible, and avoid including just managers. So if you have a large team, you may want to plan more than one meeting or include key people who could gather some information from their colleagues before the meeting.

5. Associate solutions for everything

Sometimes, the team may not have solutions for every element right away, but you want to avoid the problem from recurring so you must find solutions for everything. If it’s impossible during the meeting, assign someone the task of doing a little research, and never leave anything without solutions.