The importance of pausing and reflecting: project success, failure and learning

Faced with a constant barrage of social media updates, emails, must-see TV, and - nearly forgot! - work, we often lack the time to reflect on what we’re actually doing.

Here at Case Study Ninja, we’re big fans of reflection. Much like dreaming helps us make sense of our conscious lives, and commas and full stops help us make sense of the written word, it’s often only after the event that we miraculously gain the ability to become analytical.

Once you've finished working on a project, taking time to understand what happened can sometimes be the most useful part - particularly if that project was a failure. We've seen businesses where the project failure rate was over 50%; this strongly suggests that they weren't learning anything at all!

The story you want to tell is key, but perhaps more important is creating the space to tell it. Successful companies and teams take the time to celebrate success, and learn from their mistakes, but this can’t be achieved unless people are encouraged to make the time to do so. Here’s a list of businessy things we’ve seen it called:

They’re all exactly the same thing: a space in which project members can pause, reflect and work out whether they achieved what they set out to do. And if they were written into the plan from the very start, people are aware that they’ll have the time to be celebrate and reflect on what they’ve achieved.

Owning disasters is a really key part of pausing. We’ve talked about how a case study can be a success story, but not everything you do will be a success. Positive things to take from failure include: 

Your case studies are a demonstration of not only what happened, but of you taking the time to think about what you’re doing. Self-awareness is as important in business as it is in life. We’ve all seen completely tone-deaf PR from companies that pay people enough to know better. You’re showing your customers that you take your activities seriously enough to really meditate on success and failure – and that you’re not afraid to learn and improve from your mistakes. 

Looking honest and brave is not something you can fake for very long. Take that pause, and really think about what you’re doing. Otherwise...what are you doing? 

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