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1.2 New Year’s Eve Retrospective

A few years ago, my family and I started a new Year’s tradition. We call it the New Year’s Eve Retrospective. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it also helps pass the time until midnight (especially helpful with children). The New Year’s Eve Retrospective goes like this: To start, we all sit down together and look at some photos and watch some short videos that we took during the year. I’ve prepared a USB stick with the photos and videos beforehand. This phase of our retrospective is always loads of fun and results in a lot of laughter.

After this review, we have a look at our measures and hypotheses from the year. This is important because it is the only way we can determine whether or not the resolutions we made last year had the desired effect. If they didn’t, we can decide whether the subject is still relevant and choose a new measure. After reviewing our hypotheses, we start to recollect all the things about the last year that have been particularly memorable. We use three categories:

  • What did I like this year?

  • What I did not like at all this year (or what made me angry)?

  • Thank you

The first category is for all of those things that were fun or made us happy; for example, our family holiday in a kyrgyz yurt. The second category includes all the negative events. These are things like “socks everywhere” or “annoying parents.” The third category simply serves to say “thank you” to your wife or mom, to the children or siblings, and so on. Connecting your gratitude to a specific case is always important. For example, “Thanks for letting me play with your Skylander toys” or “Thank you for making me a snack every morning.”

‘It is then time to gain knowledge and insights. Each family member is allowed to choose a topic that he or she finds particularly important, and these topics are discussed in turn. The goal of these discussions is to find the underlying causes for the topic. At the moment, we’re finding the 5-Why question method very valuable here

The next step is to use the causes we’ve found to create concrete, measurable resolutions for next year. To this end, we have a short brainstorming session to collect ideas about our topics. You wouldn’t believe the ideas children can come up with, even for the topics closer to their parents’ hearts. Everyone presents his or her ideas for each topic, and we choose the most promising idea. We make our choice by sticking colored dots up next to the ideas on the paper. This technique is called “Dot Voting.” Each of us has three sticky dots, which we can put wherever we like. Once we’ve finished, we place the newly chosen measures in a prominent place: our family corkboard in the hall, which is our highly visual to-do list. There is nothing worse than results that are not visible after the retrospective. Our board helps us to keep an eye on our new measures and ensure that we actually implement them. Importantly, we also link each measure to a testable hypothesis that we can review in the next retrospective.

Of course, a retrospective also needs a worthy ending. In this case, the choice is easy: the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

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