If you want to earn more money, you’ll need to get a promotion.

This is a 10-part series of “Nuggets” to help lay out a path to a better, higher-paid, job that is better fitted to your competencies. But you’ll notice, you’ll have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

To Help Align and Refocus Efforts, Do POST MORTEMS on Major Goals & Key Activities.

What’s a post mortem? It’s an analysis following the completion, or abandonment, of a goal, objective, or activity.

Quite often when a goal is reached, or an activity completed, we immediately jump to the next on our “To Do” lists instead of pausing long enough to mine the event for a hidden lesson. A few minutes spent on examining all the events leading to, and involved in, any goal, activity, or outcome, and, where the matter is significant enough to warrant involving key contributors and stakeholders, can uncover valuable information that can help to boost your own productivity and effectiveness.

You need not fear conducting a post mortem because it sounds complicated. It pretty much is a session in which you ask the key 6 questions reporters do: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW.

For those of you who are trained in 6-Sigma, LEAN, or any other corporate improvement process, you’d recognize this as a streamlined form of a “Root Cause Analysis”. For the rest of you, often the 6 questions will suffice and can uncover great insight.

When you want to do a post mortem you can do so by yourself. But, whenever it is practical, it is quite useful to convene a team meeting of many of the key players and stakeholders to involve them in answering the 6 questions. You ought to be selective when deciding to involve others. A company can’t get much done if everyone is always tied up at meetings.

The first round of responses will be the obvious, top-of-mind.  Work from those first responses by applying the same 6 questions to each of the first responses to create your second tier of responses. Work from that 2nd set of responses by applying the same 6 questions to each of the 2nd responses to create your third tier of responses. Keep repeating this process until ideas run dry. I strongly suggest using various sizes of 3M’s “POST-IT” Brand sticky notes when you facilitate this process.

When your exercise is completed your wall ought to be covered with a large tree diagram created of those sticky notes. Often you will have written the key success factor, the learning lesson or a critical solution on one of those sticky notes.