Monday, April 29, 2013

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Consulting Technique: The Client Retrospective

In the Agile development process a team is asked to do a retrospective at the end of each sprint.  During the retrospective the team looks back on the things it has accomplished. The process is analyzed for weakness and improvements are proposed. As software consultants we become quite familiar with this process. When finishing your work at a client and moving on to your next project the same retrospective technique used in Agile development can be applied to the consulting process.

As we move from one client to the next we constantly strive to improve our ability to understand and improve the client condition. How can we gauge our successes and failures without some kind of look back over the period? Take some time (maybe a few minutes on your flight home) and go over the things you set out to accomplish. I propose the following questions at starting point.
  •        What things went well? Of these things, what caused them to go well?
  •        What things went poorly? What caused them to go poorly?
  •        What are the top three things you learned from this client experience?
  •        What are the top three things you would like to improve on?

These questions are incredibly obvious and are just meant as a starting point. Create a place where you can log your questions and your answers. After each client look back and review your notes. Pay special attention to the things your were trying to improve from the previous client. In this way you will continue to grow and refine your consulting mentality. Improvement is iterative and we look back at our previous experience as a way of avoiding past mistakes and recognizing the things that worked. 
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