So things didn’t go as well as you planned; either your project implementation didn’t go the way you wanted – without any hiccups – or your organization didn’t respond the way you’d expected them to when the proverbial hit the fan. Well, get used to it. That’s the way things go. You always plan for the worst and hope for the best and having a project management background as well as my BCM/DR background, things don’t always go as planned no matter how hard you try. However, if something does go wrong, it’s a good idea to learn from it.
With most post-activities – either project implementations or responses to disasters and crises, there is usually one activity that’s always held; the Lessons Learned or Post Incident Review.
During these sessions, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, the focus always tends to be what went wrong and people trying to find the faults but most importantly, the person or area for where to lay the blame and shame them for their error. Well, to some degree that’s OK; you want to find the cause and find out what went wrong to cause the problem but it shouldn’t be to lay blame or just to focus on the negative. Often, these Lessons Learned meetings tend to be sessions where people can vent their frustration due to how inconvenienced they became as a result of the situation. Again, focusing on the negative. But that’s not all you should be addressing.
In every situation, there’s something good that occurs. If your organization has a situation try something different; make sure you capture the things that went well for you. What did the organization do right? Did they communication the situation in a timely manner? Did it escalate effectively? Did the resolution exceed expectations? Were the right people involved? Anything that might show that the organization did it right. It’s these things you want people to know right away or else they will stay stuck in the quagmire of negativity and never understand what they did right.
What has happened in the past, is that there is so much focus on the negative that people forget what they did right and when they move forward and the next situation comes along, they don’t remember the good things and then use those again but instead they recall the negative aspects and then try to fix their responses ‘on the fly’. This means the items that could have helped them – if they’d remembered or even discussed them previously – don’t help them because they don’t even know what they did right the last time.
So when you have situation and then hold a Lessons Learned session, make time to discuss what you did well. Remember them and make sure that if you need to, update your plans and protocols to capture what you did right. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t discuss the negative and make arrangements to resolve the bad aspects of your response, just don’t forget the things you did right, as it could lessen the impact of what goes wrong.
© StoneRoad 2015
A.Alex Fullick has over 18 years’ experience working in Business Continuity and is the author of numerous books, including “Heads in the Sand” and “BIA: Building the Foundation for a Strong Business Continuity Program.”