Send out a survey. To a sizeable cross-section of the organization. Ask four open-ended questions:
- What worked?
- What didn’t?
- What would you do differently next time?
- Anything else that you would add?
At the same time, invite about 15 people who represent various interests and levels of the organization to help you collect and analyze information The first task for each member of this team will be to interview 10 people each. Ask those same four questions.
Make Sense of the Responses
Convene a meeting of those same 15 people together. Look at the survey results. Ask what they learned during their face-to-face interviews. And begin to put these responses into categories. For example, there could be technical, financial, and timing issues, and things in the environment that were out of your control. In addition, pay special attention to the human issues. I found the human component – support and resistance – is often the primary reason why major changes fail. Look at those human factors carefully and divide the responses into three categories:
1. To what extent do people understand what was going on?
2. What were their positive and negative reactions to this change? For example, excitement and engagement versus fear.
3. To what extent did they trust and have confidence in the people leading this change?
(To learn more about these three levels, read the short article, Why Resistance Matters)
During the meeting with those 15 people, it may be hard for them to resist talking about what you could do differently in the future. That’s a good thing. I encourage you to keep a parking lot flipchart to collect those thoughts. The parking lot will allow people to say what’s on their minds – and allow you to stay focused on the work at hand.
And then ask the team to read the anonymous survey results and add anything new to the three categories listed above.
Deciding What to do Next
Now it’s time to learn from the information you collected and the conversations you just had. Look at each of the categories: technical, financial, timing, environmental, and human and ask, What should we do differently?
Please refer to the short article, How to Lead Change Effectively by Learning from Past Setbacks for more information on how to conduct this assessment process.
Act on What you Decided to Do
A first action is to share the outcomes of the meeting (and not necessarily all the gritty details of the conversation).
Begin to take some highly-visible action quickly to demonstrate that this project is going to be different.
Obviously, pay attention to what you learned throughout the next project.