Last week, we did some laundry. Some clearleft.com laundry, to be precise. It was a two hour cycle.

Rowena Price
Rowena Price
15th March 2017

Those of you who are avid readers of our Clearleft blog (Mum?!), are probably up to speed with the whys and wherefores of our journey towards a rebrand and new website. I wrote a post about the daily ‘stand ups’ we had been having to manage the process, entitled Where to draw the line and how to get over it. And you’ll have clocked by now that we did, indeed, draw a line and get over it. So now I’m picking back up on that reflection process and how we’ve continued the feedback loop since.

A note on the laundry: we like a laundry metaphor here at Clearleft - it’s a pleasing one for when we want to collaborate on a thing and unearth the stuff that’s in need of a wash, or at least an airing to begin with.

Danger in the wash basket.

Danger alert

Once we’d launched the site, we immediately started logging snag lists and notes about the process in anticipation of the next phase of iterations. But before tackling this, our project manager Matt asked us to do a retrospective on what’s happened so far.

We ended up splitting hairs a little on the nature of this, aware that we wanted it to remain purposeful at this particular juncture: we’d gone live, clocked some immediate snags, and had, have, collective ambitions to do more. The term ‘retro theatre’ cropped up at one point - I think it was Andy Budd that used it. For what it’s worth, I think we steered clear of that by and large, and being openly aware of not wanting to stray into ‘theatrical’ territory helped us. In reality, it ended up more like a bit of a post-mortem than a retro.

First up, the danger bit. It’s important that we identify where we can improve and learn from it.

Step one goes a bit like this:

  • As individuals, we scribble down danger areas - in retrospect, things we felt we could have done differently, or better

  • We stick them on the wall and, one by one, walk each other through our notes and thoughts - no judgement or discussion at this stage, just sharing

Step two:

  • All together, we take a look at what’s up there, identify common themes (such as internal communications, or resourcing) and then group the notes under those themes

  • Then we go and hover near a group of sticky notes that particularly resonate with us - for me it was issues to do with internal communications and project management

Step three:

  • Time to take a look at what we’ve got - we work with whoever has joined us looking at the same theme (or on our own, if that’s the case), and note down ideas for what we could do to overcome the challenges, or mitigate for the future

Step four:

  • We feedback to the group and get into a discussion about the various ideas on the table (or wall, in this case) - this is a bit of a litmus test, a cross-referencing exercise to ensure we enhance our understanding of the issues by exploring different perspectives

This was the quick and dirty approach. The reality was that we didn’t have much time with all the right people in the room, so we had to crack on. But it served a purpose and the danger areas got a good airing!

Keep the cycle going.

To keep the cycle of learning going, it’s important that we don’t leave the process there. Easier said than done when diaries are busy and we’re all jumping back into other pieces of work. At the end of the danger area session, we were all asked to take responsibility for the areas we aligned ourselves with, and consider how we can turn our ideas for improvement into reality.

The immediate next step is to capture what we did and said, and turn it into some digestible, tangible and actionable record that we can all work with. Matt is on the case.

Congratulations (and no metaphors).

Congrats

As time ticked on, we skipped to the celebratory bit and finished on a high. Taking some time to reflect on the good things, which we can also learn from, was a valuable way to finish. The simple act of writing down all the things that went well, all the achievements as part of the project so far, then slapping them on the wall next to a sheet of paper with the word ‘celebrate’ on it, is a very nice thing indeed.

We stepped back and congratulated each other on our individual and collective achievements - victories small and large, all acknowledged and celebrated. For my money, our crack team did a really good job in challenging circumstances, and I’m excited about what we can do next, because it’s just the beginning.

In the meantime, I’m off to do another load of laundry…