What??? How morbid! It’s the holiday season—it’s time for parties, and celebrations and gifts– not dead bodies!!
Well, actually, it is a good time to do all of the above AND do some post mortems on your business. What’s a post-mortem? Webster defines post mortem as the following: 1: done, occurring, or collected after death (as in collecting a specimen) or 2: following the event
We’ll go for definition #2, it’s a bit less morbid, don’t you think?
There’s no time like the end of the year to look at your accomplishments and analyze what went well and what didn’t. At Profit Point, we do this regularly and continuously with every project we work on throughout the year.
The results are game changing. Seriously.
Looking at what went wrong can help you understand what you need to fix. I’ll use our experience to tell you why these are beneficial. In our company, one of our major objectives is continuous improvement. Post mortems serve a critical purpose—get better at what we do. Always.
Since we’ve been doing them for a while, we typically don’t have to reinvent the wheel or do major overhauls, just minor course corrections and fine tuning to improve our processes.
However the first ones we did, weren’t so pretty. They were ugly. There were dead bodies… everywhere. It required slogging through some uncomfortable meetings and being real and honest with ourselves on where we fell short. Post mortems are sometimes the hardest meetings for me—we have to set aside the emotions and the excuses and get to the core of the problem and identify what warning signs we missed. It’s a lot of finger pointing… mostly at ourselves. That’s always the tough part. We are always looking at both sides– what poorly and what went well— and what can we do better the next time.
But despite the dead bodies, I have to say, post mortems have accelerated our improvements SIGNIFICANTLY and in a shorter period of time than any other initiative we have done. That’s why we do them not only at the end of the year but all year round, after every major project, major sales calls and proposals, onboarding big clients, you name it.
Here’s the thing: Incremental improvements compound into big improvements. Focusing and enhancing what we did well accelerates growth.
George Santayana is credited with the quote “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” We have used post mortems with our clients to evaluate big projects, we have identified pricing issues and inefficiencies—all because we took some time to look in the rear-view mirror and take a deep dive into the dark, dark waters of a project gone wrong.
Like all knowledge, post mortems accelerates growth. You don’t repeat your mistakes because you are wiser, smarter, put procedures and guidelines in place all from your learnings. You can also focus on growing the “good stuff”— all the things you did well and make sure they are baked into your process going forward.
Yes, post mortems can feel like bringing out the dead bodies, they aren’t always pretty, but one of those things that are necessary evil if you want to celebrate in the end.
Kind of like fruit cake during the holidays, right?