June 19, 2009 Chris Fuller

E-valuate and E-volve

“Experience is not the greatest teacher – evaluated experience is the greatest teacher. “

This simple saying has echoed in my mind since I heard it from my mentor, John Maxwell. I have broadcast it to many audiences around the planet and, yet, I am still passionate about the concept. We have to get better. We have to improve performance, daily, where possible.

Finally, for the R.A.C.E. model, the E stands for Evolve. If we fail to evolve, if we fail to change, if we fail to adapt, we will die. It happens in creation, it happens in careers, and it happens on the trail.

“No strategic plan survives the battlefield.”

The goal of the race should be to finish the race – to reach your ‘Burled Arch’- in the best place possible NOT to have finished the race with your plan intact. There is a balance between – stick to the plan at all costs AND the plan is just a piece of paper (a guide or suggestion). The plan has to be solid and everyone on your team needs to know that this is the plan, “This is the way that we are going to run AND where the plan is not succeeding we will evaluate and see if it is right to ‘E-volve’ the plan.” As the leader, you get to make that call – what needs to evolve now and what do we believe will yield results if we continue on the same process (or trail) for a little longer. This is where your ‘Evaluated Experience’ from the past comes in. The leaders with the most ‘evaluated experience’ are going to know what to change and what to stick to. Rookie mushers: you and your team are going to pay the dues for your ‘on-the-trail’ leadership education (we all do! – and my heart in consulting, writing the book, and in this blog is to help – just because you have to learn the lessons doesn’t mean they have to be YOUR mistakes – learn from others!)

OK – so HOW do we E-valuate and E-volve?

At the Checkpoints (Have a meeting just for lessons learned)

Evaluate the plan…

What went right? What went wrong? Why did it go right / wrong? Where did the plan fall short? Where were circumstances different on the trail than we thought? What misconceptions did we have about our competition? Or what did we see others do that could be a ‘better practice’?

Evaluate the team…

Where did WE fail to implement the plan? Did I team the right dogs together? What did individual performances look like and why? Is everyone on the team still engaged? Do I have Buy-In or a Buy-in problem? (Team Culture suggestion: have this as an open discussion with the team and allow a peer / team review – Safe peer review – no biting LOL)

Lessons learned (for now or later?)…

What do we do different for the next stretch of trail? What do we record to change for next year’s race through the same section we just went through? What are we going to do differently that will yield a BETTER result? (not just a different result)


The value in the Evolve stage is where you look at the information you learned at the Checkpoints, you evaluate your experiences AND you implement them – you, immediately, put it to use in your daily running. If nothing changes – we just had a nice mental exercise. To help with change – get the teams commitment to holding each other positively accountable for the behavior and performance changes and add that to the list of evaluations at the next checkpoint.

Wrap up for the week:

R- Ready

A- Action

C- Checkpoints

E- Evolve

RACE to win AND enjoy the journey!

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