Our services at Applied Influence Group provide our clients with many techniques to improve perception of their product, service or brand. However, in this post I am going to share with you a process we use, that has been drilled into us from the military, that can drastically improve internal and external quality and perception of your outputs.

It is extremely tempting and easy to fall into the trap of recognising and basking in the glory of your own success. We might receive a great contract, some praise or a promotion and focus on the positive actions we took to ensure that came about. The danger in focusing on the positives and not recognising or acknowledging the mistakes and failings that occurred during the process that took you to your result, can lead to stagnation and ultimately the quality and perception of your product or service will diminish.

Our military heritage ensures that we conduct an internal review each time we provide a service or complete a body of work and rather than just reflect on what went well, we examine what went wrong and how we can improve for next time. A word of warning though with regards to culture; it is imperative that every person involved in that review process feels as though they can take responsibility for failure with confidence and without fear of judgement and blame. Likewise, it is also important that every person feels as though they can be honest with other members of the team to identify where they may have failed. If the people conducting the review care more about status and ego than they do improving the service, then the review time will be wasted. Taking ego and status out of this process is essential and in our opinion, one of the building blocks to forming an elite and high performing team.

In his book ‘Black Box Thinking’ Matthew Syed writes about the attitude to this in the health sector and that the perceived infallibility of surgeons being completely counterproductive because if they are unwilling to take responsibility for mistakes, they will never learn from them. Syed highlights the result of this by citing a medical study which proposes that one in ten patients is killed or injured because of medical error or institutional short-comings.

We are currently working on a long-term contract and we ensure that we have internal review points to examine what has happened and how we can improve. Prior to a recent service delivery, we made a presumption about the culture around a client’s attitude towards time keeping. We assumed that they would stick to the timings we provided and would appreciate our relaxed and not too prescriptive direction. This backfired and people took advantage of it, turning up late, popping out to take an ‘urgent’ call etc. This had a negative effect on the learning experience, resulting in other members of the workshop getting frustrated with their colleagues and the environment became unconducive for learning. Rather than blaming the delegates and just accepting it for being part of their culture, in our review meeting, we recognised that this behaviour was our fault but that we could do something to rectify it. We identified the consequence of the issue, shared ideas on how to rectify it, then the team member leading the review selected the appropriate action. This resulted in a much better product as the client was happy, they gained more from our service, it informed the way we interact on future deliveries and ultimately changed the perception that client had over our organisation.

The internal review is not a witch hunt, it is there to generate an improved service and performance which will improve the perception of your brand externally. But the benefits of creating an environment free from status and ego, which promotes honest problem solving has benefits internally too, which ultimately result in improved trust, understanding and relationships.