I think evaluation and forward progress may be my love language. If I can sit down with someone and evaluate something we’ve done together with the intent of making it better, then I’m able to live in my happy place.
But, if I’m going to be honest, as much as I love evaluation, it takes effort. Simple evaluation (i.e., self criticism) comes naturally, but true evaluation requires more brainpower and energy.
And I think this is true in leadership. if we want to grow, we need to learn to evaluate truthfully and effectively. But it’s a difficult habit to build and maintain.
So today, here are three reasons why I think evaluation is worth the effort:
- It makes the mistakes worth the cost. Have you ever done something perfectly the first time? No? Yeah, me either. If I fail to evaluate, the chances of me making the same mistake again are significantly higher. So doesn’t it make more sense to spend time evaluating and deciphering how to eliminate the mistake and replace it with something better? The best mistake launches us toward growth. Evaluation helps the transition.
- It helps me remember what we did. I have a terrible memory. In youth ministry, I pull off annual events, but so often they are separated out by 12 months. So when I sit down to plan the next one it’s been at least 9 months since I thought about (10 or 11 if we’re honest about my own planning process). So, when I write out an evaluation, it helps me remember why I made the decisions I made, it helps me remember the mistakes I made, and it helps me remember the great idea I had that would have been lost otherwise.
- It makes the event better the next time. This is the greatest benefit of evaluation for me. Whether it’s an annual event, or a regular weekly happening, my effort produces greater results when it’s paired with evaluation. I have an event coming up in March that we did for the first time last year. Because I spent time evaluating, when I start to take steps to plan based off the evaluation I did, I know the event will be even better.
Alright, so how do I evaluate? I work through three questions (but not the three questions you might think). They are simply this:
- What We Did
- What Worked
- What to Do Differently
That’s it. Bullet points are my friend, and they will be yours too. Take 10 minutes today and evaluate something. It could be a project you just finished, an event that concluded recently, or fixing a Thanksgiving meal. Unleash the power of evaluation. I think you’ll be glad you did.