Reflect and Evolve: Embracing Positive Surprises and Learning from the Unexpected in Year-End Reviews

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As the year draws to a close, it's a pivotal time for reflection, both on a personal level and within our teams and organizations.

Traditionally, we might engage in a ‘plus/delta' analysis, probing into what went well and what could be improved. However, I propose a slightly nuanced approach.

Let's shift our focus to positive surprises – the outcomes that exceeded our expectations. What led to these unexpected successes? What lessons can we extract from them?

Equally important is understanding our deviations from expectations. Where did we fall short, and crucially, why? This reflection paves the way for learning and adaptation. It's an opportunity to strategize for the upcoming year, setting the stage for what we anticipate and how we plan to evolve.

Reflection is a powerful tool. I'm curious – how do you and your organization engage in this process? Do you follow a structured approach, or is it more of an organic discussion?


This photo I took years ago also makes me miss downtown Orlando a bit. It reminds me that reflection isn't just about processes and outcomes; it's also about the places and moments that shape our journey.

We'd have to wait until January, but I'm still happy to offer up a free 50-minute session to reflect on 2023 together and/or think ahead to 2024 planning:


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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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