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Looking back

As the end of the year approaches, I have started the exercise of planning my year ahead. But, the first thing to do before the planning was to look back on how I fared in 2018.

One of the things I noticed was that there were areas where I consistently failed meeting my targets over a span of multiple weeks. And for every case where I fail to meet targets that I set for myself, there can be two reasons.

One, I was very ambitious in the goal and target setting, and I ended up setting much higher targets than what was practically achievable. And some cases were clearly attributable to this reason. But the mistake I did was to continue aiming for these targets even after I had consistently failed to hit them over a few weeks. What I should instead have done was to reassess the goals and targets and brought them down to more realistic levels.

Two, I didn't meet the targets because I didn't put in the required effort or got sidetracked by some other things that came up, or fell prey to plain old laziness and procrastination. Quite a few cases were attributable to this as well. The mistake here was to not identify these shortcomings in a timely manner to take corrective action, which resulted in the behaviour repeating over multiple weeks, thus derailing the larger goal.

While my intention has always been to look back and learn from the week that went by as well as plan for the week ahead at the end of each week, I have dedicated more time to the planning bit and less and less to the looking back and learning from.

This is a classic mistake that most product development teams make as well. While working in sprints, teams tend to skip doing retrospectives and focus only on planning for the work ahead.

For 2019, I've decided to change this. At the end of each week, I will articulate and write down reasons for why I failed to hit the goals for the week and factor in corrective actions for the upcoming week where applicable.

In other words, I will start doing retrospectives more rigorously.

If you are working in a product development team and aren't doing retrospectives, you could be running into the same kind of problems I did in 2018.

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