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Learn from success

When things go well, when a major project comes in to time, to budget and with all the intended deliverables, it's not just luck. When things go well in business, it's almost always because we got something right! This is a great learning opportunity - which we usually miss. What we do instead is move quickly on - to the next project. What did we do that seemed to make everything fall into place? What did we do differently this time around that we didn't do on the last project? These are key questions that we need to ask and to answer.

In business we should try to learn from our successes - and then apply that learning. All too often however, we only try to learn from our failures; we hold a 'post mortem' where we beat ourselves up, we berate ourselves and rubbish our colleagues - and achieve precisely zero! While we are not saying that we can't learn from our failures and our weaknesses, we can learn much more from our strengths and successes. But we need to understand our strengths and how to deploy them. We are just not good at this however.

Interestingly this is one lesson that sports teams learnt some time ago. In the 1960's a number of our most successful and progressive football clubs, introduced the then revolutionary technique of capturing and trying to recreate, on the training ground, their successes on the pitch. A couple of the backroom staff would watch the game from high up in the stand rather than in the dug out. Their only remit was to capture - in detail - the team's successes i.e. what specifically the team did that led them to creating chances and scoring goals. Was it when they got the fullbacks forward? Or when they kept the ball on the ground? Was it when the midfielders got forward into the penalty box? Was it when they retained possession for a long period of time? They started to capture what the team did that led to success and then set about recreating that on the training ground - so that the team could then recreate it on the pitch in the next match. It worked.

Learning from our successes somehow doesn't seem to come as naturally to us as learning from our weaknesses. We often struggle to define our strengths and hence understand the source of our successes. Most people however do understand their weaknesses. This probably stems from our school days. Remember your old school reports? If you were weak at a subject, there was invariably an explanatory comment - a specific - attached. For instance "Poor - you must learn the formulae" or "Weak - seems unable to concentrate for more than 5 minutes". However when you were really good at a subject, all you got was "Excellent" or "Very Good". But no specifics!

Try to learn from your successes - what went well and why. Then apply it.

Your business will be so much stronger.

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