(About a 5-minute read.)
I first read about 'lagging indicators' from a new-year focused (2023) blog post from Ryan Holiday (author and Stoic thought leader - I created the activity, Obstacle Reflection using quotes from one of his books). A lagging indicator is an "output measurement" (according to a quick Google search). As Holiday puts it, "All success [or lack of it] is a lagging indicator." Lagging indicators give us vital data.
Specific to team building, what does success look like to you? What personal success do you consider? What contextual success do you measure? More often than not, I measure success in relation to the goals I set for myself. For example, one of my ongoing goals is to try a new activity (or a unique variation of an old favorite) during each program I facilitate. My lagging indicators (outcome measurements) show up in relation to how well I prepared for the new activity. I've found that the more time I spend thinking about and writing out the activity the better the outcomes - I've taken the time to prepare myself. I put in the work.
In Holiday's post, he says:
Nothing comes from nowhere. Not success. Not inspiration. Not the muses. Not writer's block. Everything is a lagging indicator of whether or not you did the work.
Using lagging indicators as data is important to our growth as team builders. It's why there is a lot of advice about taking time to reflect on your facilitation immediately after a program (intraspectively and/or with other facilitators). Here are a handful of after-program reflections:
After-program reflection does not need to take a lot of time (unless you want it to). Use indicators to identify what's working - recognize and repeat. (Don't forget to celebrate the goodness!) Then determine what didn't work well (maybe just one thing) and make a plan to change it for next time.
In most cases, based on my experience, when I've planned well with purpose, programs go well. When I put in the work and create of program I believe will lead my groups' to their outcomes, I see more 'success.' (It's that old saying, "You get out of it what you put in.")
What are some of the lagging indicators you want to work on? How are your processing skills? How are you feeling about 'opening' programs? How are you at wrapping up or 'closing' a program? Do you know enough activities to plan for a wide range of diverse groups (if you want to work with a wide range)? How are your online team building facilitation skills? How much work needs to go into meeting your goals? Can you (will you) put in the time?
Lagging indicators will show you where to focus the work.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
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Dr. Chris Cavert is an educator, author and trainer. His passion is helping team builders learn and grow.