As a consulting firm leader, you’re winning projects, delivering client delight, upgrading your support infrastructure and pondering strategies for growth. What if there was a simple routine you could layer into your ongoing activities that would accelerate your progress?
Your consulting firm may already incorporate a post-project retrospective into your standard operating approach. If you’re way ahead of the curve, you conduct retrospectives periodically during your projects too.
However, typical retrospectives largely focus on how you “played” your project. A “Play it” retrospective examines what you (and your client) did and didn’t do, and suggests how your consulting firm should act differently in the future.
You can easily elevate your Play It retrospective to a Play It, Weigh It, Say It examination, which is much more powerful.
The Play It, Weigh It, Say It Retrospective
You’re probably familiar with a post-project review of how you conducted a consulting engagement. You’ll find a very solid retrospective covering five aspects of every project in this article.
If the list of questions in that article seems too daunting, you could revert to a simpler, four-question list:
- What went well during this project?
- What did not go well during this project?
- If we could go back in time and do the project over, what would we have done differently?
- Based on the answers to the first three questions, what systemic changes should we make to our approach or operations?
The output of your Play It retrospective will tell you:
- What (and how) your current, standardized approaches should be updated
- What (and how) new approaches should be standardized and codified
- What (and how) one-off situations should be avoided in the future
The Weigh It retrospective focuses specifically on data and metrics, both of which are instrumental to improving your consulting firm and demonstrating your value to clients and prospects. To conduct a Weigh It retrospective, ask:
- During the project, did we capture or assemble any data that, if we can share it ethically, would be useful to other clients, prospective clients or our tribe in general?
- Can any data we captured or that we could create from this project feed into benchmarks that would be valuable for our clients, prospective clients, or our tribe in general?
- What data can we capture or produce from the project that feed a quantitative assessment of how to operate our consulting firm and improve the likelihood of project success?
- Note that at a minimum, you can capture the duration of the project, and enumerate the factors that facilitated and impeded the project’s success.
The outputs of your Weigh It retrospective are data. You’re charged with leveraging that data to improve your operations and, especially, to advance your thought leadership.
Prospective clients want to know in advance whether their project will be successful. When you show, with documented evidence, the factors that make your consulting projects successful, your credibility shoots through the roof.
Consulting is a communication game. Therefore, the Say It retrospective focuses on what and how you communicated over the course of the project. During the Say It portion of your retrospective, ask:
- What, specifically, did we say during the project that triggered a “Wow, that’s a great point!” reaction?
- What, specifically did we say that triggered our client to say something like, “That’s exactly what I meant, but said better”?
- What, if any, phrases, language, labels or models of ours have become operating lingo inside our client?
- What phrases or terms did we encounter during the project that are clever and succinctly capture an idea?
The outputs of your Say It retrospective are:
- Topics for articles, presentations and other Thought Leadership
- New, boilerplate language that will improve the impact of future proposals and deliverables
- Direction on how to enhance your communication with clients and prospects
Even if you don’t work through every question, a one-hour Play It, Weigh It, Say It retrospective at the conclusion of every project will quickly improve your consulting firm’s performance.
Are there any other questions or topics you’d add to the Play It, Weigh It, Say It retrospective?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.