Setback Bounce Back

This week's trek is inspired Kellogg Professor Neal J. Roese's research on the best ways to recover from setbacks.  

You know that moment you realize something has gone totally wrong?

Maybe your team shipped the wrong product, you missed an important deadline, or a product launch went off the rails. Setbacks happen a lot in business and, while it's tempting to head straight to the bar to decompress, there are more productive ways to deal with the stress. 

Introducing Your Setback Bounce Back Exercise

What It Is
A 20-minute exercise to help you recover from a setback in a productive way so you can identify key learnings for next time.

Why We Love It 
Setbacks force you to go into problem solving mode and fix whatever the issue at hand might be. Once the fires are put out another chain of events ensues - pointing fingers, ruminating over what went wrong, or beating yourself up. This exercise helps you channel your post-emergency energy into finding ways to avoid future mishaps.

How It Works
1. After a setback occurs and the fires have been put out, set aside 20 minutes with your team to debrief.

2. When you come together as a group work through each of the following questions and capture your responses:
-  Counterfactual Round 1: What path could I have taken in order to arrive at a better outcome? The key thing here is to focus on your individual actions (no finger pointing) and give each of your team members time to do the same. Then, take a few minutes and share out as a group.
-  Counterfactual Round 2: What is another path I could have taken to arrive at a better outcome? Yes, we know this is repeating the same question from above, but there's an important reason.
Roese argues that hindsight bias creates a tendency to "fixate on the first alternative scenario," which can lead to an oversimplification of why you failed. By forcing yourself to search for another set of solutions to a better outcome, you'll often arrive at something you otherwise wouldn't have considered.
Semifactual Scenario: How could this different path we've identified resulted in the same outcome? In this stage it's often helpful to ask "Even if we had taken this different approach, would we really have arrived at a better outcome?" 
Randomness Scenario: How could a better or worse outcome have resulted from the exact same process we followed? This step helps your team understand the randomness in outcomes. As much as we like to think we have control over things, it's always important to recognize that outside forces are often at play.
Worse Outcome Scenario: What alternative path could we have taken that might have led to a worse outcome? This step helps you put things in perspective and understand that, even though you hit a setback, you did make some good choices along the way. 

3. As a team, reflect on your responses to the above questions and consider how you might work differently next time to account for the learnings you've just identified. Have each person (yourself included!) take 2 minutes to identify one thing they will do differently next time to support a better outcome. 

Source: HBR.

Want to dig deeper into this topic?
Shout. It. Out. To Leslie Mulder for her exercise crafting skills! 
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