Feb. 2006 Members Podcast - The Hot Wash
In this show, we're going to talk about the simplest, most elegant tool we know of to make something you do at work more efficient and more effective.
Once we explain it, you'll get it, and you'll be able to do it. It blows away two of our favorite tool criteria, effectiveness and efficiency. It works; that is, you'll get notable change out of this tool. So that makes it effective. And, it's terribly fast, without ANY fanfare or paperwork or staffing, so that makes it efficient as well. We like ANYTHING that is both effective and efficient.
The tool's nickname is "The Hot Wash". Its more formal name is Running an After Action Session.
Before we get into it, a note about nomenclature. We're going to call this tool the Hot Wash, and here's why. First, it's catchy. It has some emotional power that "Running An After Action Session" just doesn't. Hot Wash sounds cool, folks, and we're all about cool here. Okay, we're not really all about cool, but the point is, names matter. One on ones as a title works because people long to connect on a personal level, one to one. We're looking for a better name for the feedback model, in fact, just for this reason. We used to like the IMPERSONALITY of it, frankly, but we're re-thinking that. Hot Wash will excite your people a bit.
What's more, it will reinforce that the tool you're using will be relatively painless, short and sweet. No graphs, no charts, no dog and pony. "We're gonna meet, talk about how things went, and see what to keep and what to make better next time. Nothing fancy. Hot Wash."
As well, After Action processes can be a LOT more complicated. We'll do a show at some point about a really in depth effort that will impress the heck out of you, and we may ask some professional colleagues to be involved. Basically, we're stealing a core part of the larger and revered After Action Process. We know most of you won't ever use the larger process... but that doesn't mean you can't get a ton out of a Hot Wash. A Ton!
One final point about the name. We haven't been able to verify this. We believe the reason it's called Hot Wash comes from the Army. I think it's because a quick way to clean a rifle or other small weapon is to douse it in boiling hot water. It's not a complete cleaning -- a soldier still has to break down the weapon and get into the details. But it serves a valuable, immediate purpose by getting at the big stuff in a split second.
And how many other things do you do at work that get at the big stuff in a split second (besides some of the rest of Manager Tools?) One more thing: You're gonna love it.
We also promised during the show that we'd share a sample email you can use to invite folks to your first Hot Wash. As promised, here it is ...
Sample Email "Say It" Text
On this next [quarterly design offsite], we're going to include a step called a Hot Wash. It's a really good way for us to quickly capture ways to improve how we do our work. It's sort of like an After Action Review, if you've ever done one of those, but it's not that formal, and it only takes about 30 minutes.
What it means is that as we go through all the [phases , planning, work] of this [project , process, meeting, event, change], I'd like you to keep an extra few brain cells available to think about how we're doing it. Look at things and ask if there's a better way. Ask yourself what we take for granted. What might be easy to change, what would make a big difference, etc. If you're spending 30 minutes a day or even a week on this, that's too much. It's more just paying attention, and being aware.
When we're done, we're all going to get together. Some will video conference, some audio, if you can't get here. And, we're going to do a fast and furious sort-of brainstorming session, asking "What Went Well?" and what do we need to "Take a Look At"?
It will only take about [30 minutes, an hour], and we'll capture everybody's ideas on a flip chart or wall so we can all see them and think about the ideas together. Hopefully, we'll see some things we can improve for next time.
My role will be to remind and encourage everyone to pay attention and be aware, and also I'll be making my own suggestions about t hings we can do better - and surely some of the improvements we make will be ME getting better. Believe me, I'm fair game.
Looking forward to sharing ideas and getting better,