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Leading Ideas: Progress Isn’t Linear

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” — T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), from the poem Little Gidding Currently I’m working with a client that’s slowly building market share with a new software product. One of the biggest hurdles to sales has been the education of the sales channel. Just when they think a certain partner has “gotten it,” the partner stumbles in the next several deals.

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” — T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), from the poem Little Gidding

Currently I’m working with a client that’s slowly building market share with a new software product. One of the biggest hurdles to sales has been the education of the sales channel. Just when they think a certain partner has “gotten it,” the partner stumbles in the next several deals. While frustrating, it’s become obvious that this is part of the process — continually revisiting the basics to hammer out the nuances. It’s the only way everyone gets smarter and better.

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Something to consider:

Progress isn’t a straight line. It’s a series of consecutive loops that double back on themselves. Weeks, months, and even years into a journey, you can find yourself faced with challenges that you thought you’d conquered long ago. It can give you the illusion that you haven’t progressed — and that you’re back where you started.

However, don’t be fooled. That’s never the case. Each step of the journey opens your eyes to nuances you missed in the past.

Something to try:

To get smarter and better on your projects, hold what the US Army calls “After Action Reviews”: a structured process of looking at lessons learned. The Army offer the following checklist as a guide to making them successful:

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1. Project objectives are reviewed.
2. There’s an exploration of what went well.
3. There’s an exploration of what could have gone better.
4. They’re done in a timely manner.
5. A culture of learning is created.
6. A skilled facilitator is facilitating.
7. Everyone feels heard.
8. There’s a discussion of how the learning applies to future scenarios.
9. Notes are recorded.
10. The learning is shared with others in the organization.

Questions: How do you ensure your team learns from experience?

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