The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we reach it. – Michelangelo
As you start a new month and a new quarter, it’s a good time to think about your goals and any changes you would like to make, both professional and personal.
Is there a new skill you would like to learn, or a habit you wish to form? Is there an element of your collaborative project management approach that needs some attention? Perhaps you already know what you need to work on but don’t know where to start?
Quite often, people struggle to make long-lasting, meaningful change. At BrightWork, we have crafted the “REP” approach to personal change management. REP stands for Research, Execute, and Post-Mortem.
REP is a play on the word ‘repetition’ and is a very simple but effective personal change management process. Effective project management involves more than developing and following a plan; you must invest in your leadership skills and personal development. REP is the key to this challenge.
The purpose of the research phase is to gather new knowledge and identify best practices to try.
In this research phase, have fun. Enjoy learning and looking for new approaches. Research can be done in many ways. It can be done online, by talking to colleagues and with resources such as our collaborative project management handbook.
As you research, I suggest that you keep a REP Journal. The REP Journal is updated continuously with notes on anything you liked and thought you’d like to try out, to see if it might work.
At the end of the “R” stage, look through the ideas in your REP Journal and pick a few to try.
You must then decide when, where, and how you are going to trial these ideas.
The output of the “R” stage is new ideas, new energy, and a decision. That’s the key – a decision on which ideas you’re going to try and practice.
The “E” phase is where you Execute these new ideas. You exercise them, try them out, practice them, and experiment with them. One thing to consider in the Execute phase is you don’t have to work alone. Think about the people in the world who are at the top of their game. They all have coaches, mentors, a shoulder to cry on, someone to push them, someone to nudge them. They have someone behind them who gives them support. If the best in the world achieve their best with a coach, why wouldn’t you have one also?
The essence of the Execute phase is that you “do it”. You try out the new practices. Ideally, you lean back on the wisdom in the Research phase and call on your coach or mentor to help you. There’s no question if you execute honestly and earnestly, you will be performing better this time than you were the last time. And you will have succeeded.
The question you’ve need to ask in the Post-Mortem stage is “Could I have performed better?” Of course, you’re going to say yes. You’re going to celebrate the success of the Execute phase, you’re going to enjoy it, but you’re not going to rest on your laurels.
You need time out to reflect. You need to think through which practices worked really well and which could have worked better. One of the challenges with making a change is people don’t take the time to research new approaches. Those that do are ahead. Another challenge we have is many people who do research don’t all execute. They don’t practice. Those who do practice are way ahead. The people who find and research new ideas, execute them and actually stop to think afterward become the masters. Keep this in mind and understand that reflection is a very important part of mastery.
At the end of the Post-Mortem phase, you may take a break to celebrate and enjoy your success but you also get ready to start the REP cycle again. It may not be today that you start the REP cycle. It may not be tomorrow or even next month and that’s ok. It is repetition, after all, so you need to repeat the cycle to improve.
In the Post-Mortem phase, you reflected on what happened in the Execute phase. You’ve really learned from this experience. You know what worked and what needs to be tweaked. Now, go back to your Research phase and look at all the ideas you had. Maybe you decided to execute a few and they worked well. Pick one or two new ideas and repeat the cycle again.
REP is designed to improve capability and to foster creativity. REP your way to achieve your ambitions. REP your way to positive change. Be intentional about how you want to live your life, about how you change, and use REP or some similar pattern to achieve that change.
Always remember, “You can do anything you want to do in life, you just have to want to do it”.
You can do more than one REP at once and therefore your REPs overlap, but you need to give enough time to fully complete the three stages of each REP. Here is a sample REP schedule.
- January: Research phase on your first REP (e.g. Improve Time Management).
- February and March: Execute phase for your first REP (e.g. Improve Time Management).
- March: Research phase of your second REP (e.g. Collaborative Project Initiation).
- April: Post-Mortem phase for the first REP (e.g. Improve Time Management) and decide if and when you need to do another REP on this topic.
- April and May: Execute phase for your second REP (e.g. Collaborative Project Initiation).
- June: Post-Mortem phase for the second REP (e.g. Collaborative Project Initiation) and decide if and when you need to do another REP in this area.
- July: Take a well-deserved break from REP!
- August: Start the Research phase on your third REP (e.g. Improve Time Management – Part 2).
Shorter REP Cycles
The REP cycles described above are very thorough and quite long. This REP approach might suit your learning style and the situation you find yourself in. You can also try shorter REP cycles, with more frequent iterations. Let’s say you want to improve Time Management; you could do a REP cycle each week. This might look as follows:
- Monday – Week One:
- Set time aside to do some Research and select a few practices to try out, and make a note of these in your REP Journal.
- Rest of Week One: Execute these practices and exercise them for real. Go back to your notes from the Research phase throughout the week as needed for extra guidance.
- Monday – Week Two:
- In a set time period, do a Post-Mortem on the prior week and decide how the practices worked. Do you need to focus on them for another week or are you ready to add some extra practices?
- Do new Research and select a few extra practices to try out, and again make a note of these in your REP Journal.
- Lather, rinse, repeat.
- Keep going through this weekly cycle for as many weeks as you find helpful.
Once you get moving with this approach, you are executing and trying out the practices during the week with time scheduled every Monday for Post-Mortem and Research.
REP is designed to be repeated any time new skills, habits, or practices are desired. REP is a very simple, efficient, and effective personal change management process. Use REP to decide how you want to spend your time so you can live with intention.
Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from our free book, Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook.