Project performance reviews are dead; long live performance reviews. A standard practice on projects is to conduct a lessons learned (post mortem) at the end of a project. In my opinion it doesn't produce much value. The current project is over so can't benefit from what is said. The project team is often broken up sending people to different projects. Instead, do project assessments all the time. On lean projects people have many practices for assessing learning and performance. The practices range from simple plus|delta reviews at the end of a meeting, to formal retrospectives at the end of a milestone or whenever a breakdown occurs. Now there's a new practice to add to the toolkit. In our ever-connected world, we can now get concise and timely assessments from our colleagues in just a few keystrokes — 140 to be exact.
Do project assessments all the time.
Business Week published a story by Jena McGregor, Job Review in 140 Keystrokes. BW reports that a company has taken a cue from Twitter to design a "quick-and-dirty 360 degree review" process. The service is called Rypple. Project teams can use the service at the end of a meeting, presentation, client review, client prep session, design collaboration, etc. to quickly get your colleagues' views. Rypple sends your request or question to the group. The 140-character responses are presented anonymously to the person sending out the question. It takes just a few minutes to complete. It looks particularly promising for people who work in geographically dispersed teams.
The idea of anonymous feedback has its pluses and minuses. On the plus side, people who are not comfortable making critical statements may be more inclined to do so if their name isn't attached. This could increase the quality of the assessments. On the other hand, anonymity is an equalizer. The experienced competent team member's assessment carries no more strength than does the wiseguy who is on the team for a short time. For me, I'd like the option to weigh one person's assessment greater than others' assessments. But, I'm open to see what works best for a team.
Yammer could lead to far fewer meetings that were duds.
The Rypple service is free for groups up to 20 people. The service is marked "beta", but Google's Gmail was beta for 2 years if I remember correctly. I suggest you give it a try. And if you do, please come back here to let us know what you and your team thought of the product. I plan to do the same. If you and your team are ready for open assessments, then try Yammer. At my company we use Yammer to quickly connect with each other, but it would be easy to ask for opinions and get a quick reply. In fact, why wait 'til the end of the meeting to collect opinions? Have a Yammer back channel open throughout the meeting. Encourage people to make assessments as the meeting proceeds. It could lead to far fewer meetings that were duds.