Monday, November 12, 2007

Personal retrospective


As I said in my previous blog entry I recently finished a major assignment with a start-up client. The company had a lot of problems when I started, and the development group had its share of bad problems. I think I’ve left them in a much better shape than when I arrived.

Last Friday I took some time today to reflect on what it was I did and how I did it. A personal retrospective if you like. This took place between me and my word processor. I just wrote and wrote.... I tried to understand what I did right, that is what I would do again. I tried to understand what I did wrong, things I would avoid in future. And most of all I tried to understand what I would do differently.

To help me I had my personal journal, a diary of events, thoughts and reflections I’d kept during the assignment. The entries were perhaps not as frequent as I would have liked. It started well but after the first few weeks I got very erratic until close to the end. At the time the journal was useful for thinking things through in my own head, understanding what was happening and finding courses of action.

What I found striking was that in the first week I had diagnosed most of the major problems with the development group and company. Some of these I had managed to fix, some remained problems when I left - you can’t fix everything I’m afraid. But it was just striking how much I had worked out so soon.

I normally get sceptical about the expression ‘hit the ground running.’ I’m not sure if anyone really does it. But in this case I’m glad to say I was up and running within a week of getting there.

So what were my big insights from this personal reflection? Two really. Although I consider myself a good communicator (think of this blog, think of the book, etc. etc.) I really could have communicated even more. Particularly upwards.

My second finding: I wish I’d done things faster. There are a few decisions I seemed to hold off doing for weeks but in retrospect worked out for the best.

Any note to myself for the next assignment needs to read: be fearless, go faster.