Submitted by RasmusTQ on
I LOVE the Hot Wash and use it with great success for smaller things like weekly meetings, non complex projects and trainings etc. When things get more complex, especially involving areas out of my area of expertise I have no idea what to do with the material I get out of it.
If anybody can recommend some steps to take or books to read in order to ensure that we remember the learnings I'd be most grateful!
When evaluating bigger projects I stumble. A year ago I was tasked with evaluating a big and important international project, I managed to get a lot of data but I failed to compile it in a dense and meaningful way and eventually had to hand the evaluation over to somebody more senior. This still annoys me and I still haven't figured out what the end product should look like in order to be effective.
Project Management background...
What kind of project management background do you have?
None. That might be the
None. That might be the issue?
(Depending on how you define project management. I have no training in project management systems and I've never lead anything particularly big and complex. My job is managing people and within that role as well as within volunteering I regularly lead smaller projects but those live within Omnifocus on iOS )
What other resources...
What other resources have you considered to learn how to manage "larger" projects? For example, there are tools to manage your personal activities (e.g. Covey's Seven Habits book has a section on time management, Manager Tools also has podcasts on time management.)
Also, what tools have you used to sequence activities on larger projects? (e.g. Gantt charts and the like)
Start building a set of resources that you think might help you manage, track, and sequence activities. PM me if you want my email address and we can take our discussion out of the forums.
Thank you for your kind
Thank you for your kind offer!
I realize now I made a pretty poor job explaining what I am asking for. I'm looking for tools more along the lines of knowledge management rather than project management.
The question would be something like: If somebody asks you to run an evaluation of their event to help build a foundation for future events - how do you do that and what would the end product look like?
The Hot Wash is a podcast from 2006 outlining a tool to do a quick and dirty evaluation of an event or process. Basically you gather the people involved and asked them "What Went Well?" and "what should we Take A Look At?". So far so good. When conducting trainings, meetings and alike I use the input I get to update agendas, checklists, instructions etc. It is GREAT!
When a friend of mine said "Hey Rasmus, you're pretty good at running meetings, doing evaluations and all that - could you help me evaluate this big project I just pulled off so we all could learn from it" I was thrilled and of course I wanted to help out. I jumped in - head first, managed to gather a lot of really good input but when I had it all I just couldn't compile it in a format that would make sense to other people. This is what I'm looking for tools or books to be able to accomplish.
Knowledge Management and Representation...
Hmmm. Just like project management, there is a great deal of material available on knowledge management and representation. Such tools assist business process re-engineering.
Some of the Manager Tools podcasts have used grids (or tables) for knowledge management (e.g 2x2 decision matrices, and stakeholder mapping) For one example, take a look at the podcast http://www.manager-tools.com/2008/11/simple-stakeholder-decision-analysi... and download the associated Word document (it's free.) Other folks in the forums are huge fans of mind mapping, I am too, but mind mapping is typically stateless.
Because the particular need you mention involves a TIME dimension (unlike the decision analysis tool) you could be looking at Gantt charts, flow charts, state diagram mappings, (being a computer scientist--what we used to call activity on vertex (AOV) graphs but that terminology is lost on most folks.)
Essentially, I think, you are attempting to capture process information coupled with both explicit and tacit knowledge that--to me, that sounds like process mapping. I tend to use Microsoft Visio (flowcharts, swim lanes, etc.)
If you don't want to spend that kind of coin...there is an inexpensive package called Inspiration that I sometimes use--runs on Macs and Windows and costs about $60.
Coulda Used OODA :-)
Remember that evaluations (dba "Hot Washes) are but one step in a process. Perhaps it would help to zoom out and take a strategic look at the entire process. One way to do this is to read up on OODA. I link to Wikipedia only because you may find the resources at the bottom useful.
Speaking as someone who spent years heading up a learning and development department, training isn't always the answer. (you asked for steps or books.) Don't over complicate this. Identify the steps in the process that work best for you (perhaps it's OODA, could be something else). For example, for years, I used and taught, "Assess, Plan, Execute, Evaluate," then rinse and repeat. it's pretty much the same.
Decide on a simple process, incorporate it into training, model the behavior,and reward those who follow it. Then evaluate. (See what I just did? You've done the assessment, in my last sentence I suggested creating a plan, executing it, then evaluating it.)
What is the purpose of the evaluation? Who is the audience
When I looked at your question, my first instinct is to ask to what purpose or audience if the evaluation for? If the target audience is executives, it is going to need more focus on larger issues and strategy and overall outcomes. If the audience is the team, it can be more granular and focus on improving individual tasks. On large projects we would typically do the hot wash multiple times and with different groups. Feedback from the various groups was collected. The large strategy focused ideas would get moved up and shared with the management level folks. The tactical ideas and insights would stay with their respective teams.
As to what the reporting form should look like again it depends up on the audience. For executives, I would have prepared a simple report: an introduction and summary of the project, a description of the key issues, and actionable recommendations to address those issues. Recommendations should be limited to 2 – 4 per issue. For a team, an email with a list of 3-5 actions or changes may be sufficient.
The bigger problem, I usually see is how to ensure that the information is used and not lost, especially for projects or system that are only executed infrequently.