As a designer and passionate creator I’m slightly obsessed with finding problems and fixing things. At times I might come across cranky while using a microwave, irritated when reading a restaurant menu or just flat out furious when dealing with remote controls, but I’m ok with that, you can’t fix problems you don’t see. In this post I want to share with you a weekly habit that Melissa and I have adopted, which thankfully has allowed us to spot problems and take quick action.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” ~ Albert Einstein
Here is how it works for us.
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1) Survive until Friday afternoon
The meeting is designed to reflect on the weekly progress so we have it every Friday afternoon with a beer in hand (generously provided by our co-working space. Thanks WeWork!)
You will need 30min to 45min, a couple pens, 2 colors of post-its, and a couple glasses of beer. Beer is not mandatory, but it goes down nicely on Friday afternoons.
2) Post-it out
We take 10 minutes to write down on yellow posts-it the good things that worked during the week, and on pink the things that challenged us and didn’t work as planned.
It’s good practice to write a good amount of things that worked to start off with a sense of positive progress but even more important is to think back on all the things that happened during the week and note down what could be improved.
Write down in a very concise way, no need to go in details, just a quick headline that you will elaborate on in the next step.
Here are some examples from last week
- (Worked!) Finished project x
- (Worked!) New coffe machine in the office rocks
- (Didn’t work) Project X client meeting
- (Didn’t work) Project X presentation
- (Didn’t work) 1000 emails for X
One at the time give a quick presentation of each post-it and place them on the wall trying to cluster them by topic.
Here is how my post-its were elaborated:
- (Worked!) Finished project x – High five team!
- (Worked!) New coffee machine in the office rocks – Yay!
- (Didn’t work) Project X client feedback meeting – The meeting was slow, akward and ineffective.
- (Didn’t work) Project X presentation – The Skype presentation started 10 min late because of the technical difficulties and meeting energy went down quickly.
- (Didn’t work) 1000 emails for X – We got into a 12 people cc email for what should have been qick feedack. That qickly grew into a 72 email thread making it pretty much impossible to filter through the actionable feedback.
4) Cluster & Discuss
The leader or mediator of the team analyze the top 1 or 2 problems and together identify actionable steps that can be executed the following week.
The top problems we identified were “Inefficient feedback process” and “Poor presentation start”, and here are the solutions we intended to integrate the following week:
- Inefficient feedback process – We need have a more structured feedback process, set cleared objectives right at the beginning of the meeting and require unified feedback back (not 10 different opinions).
- Poor presentation start – Next time we’ll try google hangout, schedule the meeting 5 min earlier and have set a positive intro.
4) Document it
Write down some place (for us is a Google Doc) the problems and solutions discussed in a list fashion so that you can check back for reference later on AND at the end of each year you can look at the huge list of problems that were turned around and give it some heavy celebraton!
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You will notice that week after week old problems will fade away and new ones will emerge which is a great! It’s called progress! If you slowly run out of problems that means you have an even bigger problem. Not get yourself in situations challenging enough, or not striving enough for improvements.
This has been working very well for us and it’s something we actually look froward to, it makes our progress more tangible, gives us the opportunity to grow faster and have a good beer time on Friday.