by Bruce Myint | November 01, 2004

Christopher M. AveryPerhaps that last meeting was less than perfect. What can you do next time to make it better? Analyzing even a failed project need not be a deadly task, according to Christopher M. Avery, Ph.D., author of Teamwork Is an Individual Skill: Getting Your Work Done When Sharing Responsibility (Berrett-Koehler). Following are tips offered by Avery on his website,

Stay positive. Call attention to the excitement shared at the onset of the project. Since everyone intended the event to be a success, the focus should be on learning and correction, not blame and punishment.

Words matter. Stay results-focused by brainstorming what worked and what didn’t work, instead of what was right or wrong.

Avoid criticism. Since constructive criticism can make people defensive, try sensitively discussing with teammates how their actions affected you or someone else. This helps colleagues understand how they might have contributed to an undesirable result. 

Recognize success. Don’t fixate only on contentious issues and negatives. Be sure to point out satisfactions and positives. Postmortems can be helpful after successful projects as well.