I am always a bit amazed at some of the very wise things that Abraham Lincoln said. One of his quotes that you can spend an afternoon thinking and reflecting on deals with the importance of evaluation, in this case, self-evaluation:
“I don’t know who my grandfather was; I’m much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln
I probably beat this drum way too much, but I try to instill in our student leaders the value of a “completed event.” It basically comes down to three things…
An event or activity is not over until…
a) Everything is cleaned up and put away.
b) Everyone who helped make it happen is thanked.
c) You have evaluated your experience.
The first two are self-explanatory. It’s the third one that I have to stop and explain.
But that’s the beauty of it. These are “student” leaders. They’re learning as they’re leading. So I try to put tools and resources in their hands that help them lead well.
I’m going to take the next five posts to break down the five perspectives I introduced in my previous two posts. I’ve created the Review/Reflect Experience Evaluation Form to use in working through the evaluation process. In this post, I want to focus on the perspective of REDO – the elements of an experience that should be repeated.
Perhaps the easiest part of reflecting with the perspective of redo is to list out all of the elements and activities that worked. These are all of the efforts and strategies that were successful and deserve repeating. What’s more difficult is to figure out why they worked.
· Was it part of a tradition that was expected?
· Was it the chemistry of the team?
· Did it build off the success of something else?
· Were there outside factors that influenced it’s success?
This is so important. There are a lot of situations where you look at something that worked and immediately want to copy it or repeat it. But if you don’t know why it worked, then you end up with a cheap imitation that can fall flat. You see this happen all around you. A great example of this is the iPhone. It continues to be a phenomenal device. There are also a lot of other companies that are seeing the success of an iPhone and trying to create a similar device of their own. Yet the success of the iPhone is tied into many more factors than just the technology. There is an entire infrastructure and culture (Apple!) that supports it’s success.
As you list out the elements of your experience that worked, think about what it will look like if you actually try to do it again.
· If you did this again next year, would it have the same level of success?
· What if you weren’t leading it, could it still be pulled off at a high level?
The other thing to consider when it comes to the perspective of redo is the stagnation of success. This shows itself in two ways.
First, when something is successful, we tend to want to rest and enjoy the success. Success can actually keep us from achieving future success because we feel like we’ve arrived and simply want to camp right here for awhile.
Secondly, when something works and is worth repeating, we run the risk of cementing ourselves into a procedure or process that won’t always be worth repeating. It’s the ‘ol “we’ve always done it this way” paradigm. This is another reason for spending time not only with the what should be repeated, but why should it be repeated.
As we look at each of these five perspectives, the goal is for you to gain experience as a leader. While you may have worked very hard both before and during the event or activity, it is the work you do here at the end – the evaluation – where you will find the value that each experience has to offer.
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