A New Way to Approach Team Meetings
It's time to bury the
It’s often a dreaded part of the creative process: Weeks after a project has been completed, the team gathers to discuss how it all went. By the time the meeting rolls around—that is, if it even happens—the project’s finer points are a distant memory, replaced by the urgency of the next pressing deadline. Concrete observations are hard to come by, so the team largely carries on as before. But there’s no reason it has to be this way.
In a study of cardiac surgical teams, for instance, Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson found no difference between teams that held a formal post-mortem and those that didn’t. “The teams that succeeded were those that were constantly reflecting aloud on what they were observing and thinking, as a way of figuring out how to work together more effectively,” Edmondson writes in Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy.
Edmondson calls this practice “reflection in action,” and it’s ideally suited to the kind of complex projects undertaken in the knowledge economy. The teams Edmondson studied were learning a complex surgical technique that would minimize recovery time for patients. As they got up to speed, she says, the more effective groups kept up a “steady banter,” discussing what they were doing, how it was going and what they were learning about improving the process. Their conversations yielded conclusions that the team quickly put into action.
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