Organizational Fitness consists of four parts.

  1. Planning – The foundation of your fitness – it sets your direction
  2. Communication – The cardiovascular fitness of your organization – provides organizational stamina
  3. Execution – The in-game performance test of your fitness. Agility, strength, flexibility, and endurance are put to the test
  4. Review – The evaluation and learning from your performance


Review Introduction

“Let’s go to the video tape.” The review is the evaluation of how well you played (planned, communicated, and executed) the game. Embrace this step for you, the organization, and those you lead to systematically improve. Otherwise you are destined to getting better only through luck. What are you evaluating? Everything, from end to end. Let’s take a look at it.


Rules of the evaluation

  • Process is king – develop a review process and stick to it
  • Everything is up for review
  • Honesty and full disclosure are expected
  • Tension is good, conflict is not
  • All stakeholders’ views are represented


The review provides the opportunity for individuals/groups with unique perspectives to provide an analysis of their performance, your performance, and the team’s performance in relation to the plan. Self-evaluation is a powerful learning tool. For large projects it is impossible to have every player participate. However, a process that allows every player’s views to be represented is imperative.


The Review Process

Determine a process that works for your team. Let’s work through an example. Pick an operation or event that you recently experienced to use as a thought experiment. Did you ever review that event? If so, did you have a process? If not here is a process to consider.


Start with evaluating the plan. Restate the original plan and evaluate some key considerations such as:

  • What did we say we were going to do?
  • What were our unknowns and assumptions?
  • How well trained were we?
  • What risks did we accept from the start?


Then evaluate only the plan. What was good about the plan and the planning process. Were the correct people involved, did we have too much detail, too little, assess budget, was the timeline realistic, etc.….?


Capture the lessons learned.


Step two, evaluate how well the plan was communicated. What worked, how and why it worked, and how to make it better. Evaluate the communication plan for the project. In retrospect was it effective? Key considerations, regular meetings, project updates, status, communication tools, etc…


Capture the lessons learned.


Step Three. Evaluate the execution. Sequentially is typical, looking at all phases of the project. For some projects a functional approach may make more sense, such as evaluating budget, logistics, operation, marketing, and deliverables. Adopt what works for your organization. The key; evaluate execution against the plan and identify deviations. Why? Because the deviations are trying to teach you something. Every plan will have deviations. Your goal is to understand the cause of the deviation and how it was handled. Typical causes are a planning oversight, an organizational blind spot, or a gap in capability. Each cause will present different ramifications and learning opportunities. Understand why you deviated from the plan and the lesson.


Evaluate communication at every phase of the execution. Capture the lessons learned.


Summary of the Process

To be a learning organization, you need to incorporate the lessons learned into corporate knowledge. Results from each review provide invaluable information. It shows you and everyone else where your organization is performing well, who is performing well, and identifies gaps.


This is similar to an athletic team reviewing a video of their last contest. They evaluate their performance by analyzing the details of each phase of the game. The result is a training plan to improve for the next contest. An analogous approach for your organization can unlock continuous growth. Secondary effects to expect are increased trust, collaboration, and respect among team members.


Considerations for Your (The Leader’s) Involvement in the Review

Ever experience this? At the end of the project the leader brings the team together for an assessment. Which is conducted verbally from the boss’s perspective. Congratulations are given to certain members, some shortcomings identified, and a plan to address them. The only learning is what is most important to the boss.


How to be a learning organization? As the leader, lean back, observe, and be curious. How will leaning back make you more effective? You will gather the perspectives of players you may not see very often. You will sharpen the picture of your team and answer important questions such as:

  • How deep is my organization?
  • How effective are we at planning?
  • How good are we at communicating?
  • How do I capitalize on our strengths?
  • What do I need to do to make us stronger?


This final element of organizational fitness, Review, provides important metrics on the fitness of your organization. More importantly it provides the data to learn and improve your fitness. Make your organization stronger by focusing on each element of organizational fitness:  planning, communicating, executing, and reviewing.