Whether they call it a post mortem or debrief, most top performing organizations evaluate the performance or success of their program, plans or service. They evaluate to examine what worked, what didn’t and what new ideas or revisions they would like to see the next time. For example, immediately following a military operation the U.S. Navy executes an “after action reflection” as a method to explore success, failures and changes to be made in the future. Similarly, to evaluate their training program, The Ritz Carlton polls theirs the guests by sending out engagement surveys that measure the interactions of hotel staff with guests. A high mark on the survey indicates their staff training program is effective.
Measuring success in the church is critical, yet difficult to do. Due to lack of tools and processes or a fear of failure, we miss out on the benefits of these worthwhile, insightful appraisals. But there is hope. To overcome these obstacles to measurement, we can assess programs and events using an affirmative approach that considers when and how the organization’s or team’s knowledge, skills and attitudes were utilized for success. Using the starting point of affirmation instead of criticism encourages feedback and sharing.
An easy and productive way to begin this process is by asking one simple yet powerful question: How did we accomplish…? For example, after a successful fall festival, we might ask, “How did we accomplish serving 1250 guests using a budget of only $250.00. Someone might answer, “We secured a sponsor who provided all of the food.” After each answer is given, keep investigating further by asking the same question again and again until new insights are revealed. As people offer responses, document them as an action plan for the future.
Using this evaluative approach boosts confidence in the team’s efforts, enhances their desire to work together and ultimately increases their results—and it invites more evaluation.