Innovation seems inherently forward looking. When we innovate, we make something new happen.
But can looking back help drive innovation?
As the year draws to a close, now seems like a good time to pause and reflect. The past year offered a lot of good lessons if we choose to pay attention and learn them. It would be a shame to waste those lessons. These questions and thought starters will help spark some worthwhile reflections:
How did we perform against goals? If you haven’t been keeping score throughout the year, now is a good time to revisit goals set at the beginning of the year and see how you did. Be sure to assess sales goals, service targets, revenue targets and other performance metrics. What drove success? Where did you fall short, and why?
Take a look over time. Break down performance and achievements by month. Were some months better than others? Did one poor month drag down the rest of the year? It’s also helpful to revisit performance year over year. Are you spotting seasonal trends? How can you make the most of them?
Put it in context. Step back and look at the larger picture. Other useful contextual measures might include the overall economy. If your business is strongly impacted by the local economy, look at what was going on regionally. Did new events or business expansions give your own performance a lift? If so, look ahead for similar opportunities in the coming year. What lessons did you learn this year that will enhance lift even more next year when a similar opportunity emerges?
Do over. If you could go back and make just one decision differently this year, what would it be? Does that decision change future decisions or processes?
What sparked your interest this year? Take a look back at new products, tools, features or services that launched in the last year. Think beyond your industry. What was most exciting to you? Are there connections or applications for your work?
Who made an impact on you? As you look back over the last year, what new person brought the most value to your life, and why?