There’s a lot of snow on the ground today. I’ve included a pic I took with my iPhone using the Hipstamatic app. While this post isn’t about that app…I highly recommend it!
The snow shows us that we have clearly made the transition from Fall to Winter. Sometimes the change from one season to another isn’t as pronounced. The next season just creeps up on us.
I’ve identified six seasons within the student leader year. At this point in the semester, we’re moving from the fluctuation season into the evaluation season. In my attempt to stay a step ahead of each season, I’ve begun to look again at developing tools to help our students get the most out of their evaluation efforts.
The new tool will focus around five keys to reviewing and reflecting on an experience once it is over: redo, revoke, reward, revise, and recruit.
What went right? List out the successful elements of your experience. You want to do these things again. These activities deserve repeating. Consider the elements that were at the heart of making this experience worthwhile. Think about the parts of your experience that could easily (or should easily) become a tradition.
This is the part of the evaluation where you focus on what worked. You want to make sure and do this again.
Not everything will go smoothly or happen just as you plan it. Sometimes we don’t know until we try. But now that you’ve tried it, you know there are things that you need to toss.
What are those elements from your experience that failed? What should you get rid of? What steps were ineffective and need to be cut out? Is there a traditional part of this experience that has run its course and no longer works…but no one has officially killed it yet? Your evaluation of what to revoke is crucial to creating successful events in the future. The goal of successful evaluation is to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
An event is not over until everyone is thanked. Expressing thanks is a reward to those who helped you pull off a successful event or activity. You may also want to express a reward by celebrating with those who took part in the success of your experience.
Reward is a crucial part of follow-up. Often, people only hear about the negative or only receive feedback when they’ve failed. When you reward others (or yourself) for work well done, you create momentum toward the success of your next event. Rewards come in many forms. It may be words of appreciation, small mementos of the experience, or tangible gifts. Think about what and who needs to be rewarded from each experience.
Sometimes an element of your experience doesn’t need to be thrown out, only tweaked. Your experience has taught you that you were on the right track, you just need to change your strategy or approach it a bit differently. It’s an important distinction between revise and revoke. You may simply need a little more time or add one more person to the team or spend your money a little differently. Rather than begin all over again, revising let’s you use your experience to improve.
You’ll notice that professionals in any environment aren’t quick to throw out the basics when they make a mistake, but rather will simply revise their approach and make small changes in order to be more effective in the future.
This part of the evaluation is focused on people. Consider all of the people involved: participants, spectators, workers, vendors, volunteers, etc. Think about the different strengths and weaknesses that were represented. Was someone missing that would be more helpful in the future? Was there someone that shouldn’t be a part of this experience in the future? Who were the people that were most helpful in the process – you would ask for their help again next time?
We never really know how people will do in various circumstances until we actually see them in action. Now that you’ve had firsthand experience with these different groups of people, what are your recommendations and criticisms?
Peter Drucker states, “The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.” My hope is that each of these areas will provide a good context to ask the right questions about what works and what doesn’t.