The final step in planning and executing big events is the evaluation phase after the event is over. We call it the “post-mortem.”
Since every staff member is involved (in some way) in executing the event, it makes sense to have everyone involved in the post-mortem session. In our case, we ask each staff member to compile their input, both positive observations and constructive criticisms. We also assemble all feedback received from the participants and volunteers. Often participants and, especially, volunteers will send e-mails to the children’s pastor (in the case of Kids’ Camp) or other staff members with whom they’re most connected or might have served alongside during the event. All of this “input” is brought to a meeting scheduled a week or two after the conclusion of the event.
The post-mortem meeting is a “no holds barred” “gloves off” session. Right from the start, the ministry leader most directly responsible for the event (the children’s pastor in the case of Kids’ Camp) is counseled against getting their feelings hurt or otherwise being “defensive,” as it will stifle the usefulness of the feedback. After all, the purpose of the postmortem is to learn, not assign “blame.” What went well? What didn’t go so well?
The session begins with a brainstorming exercise. The event leader is usually asked to facilitate, and everyone is encouraged to provide feedback in some order. Usually, we go through the event from “top to bottom,” meaning we begin at the beginning and end with the last activity on the last day. For Kids’ Camp, it’s from setup to tear down and everything in between.
Once we have as much input on the whiteboard as we can get, we shift into a S.W.O.T. analysis. You’ve heard of a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats exercise. It’s a great way to get lots of feedback put into some order lending itself to establishing priorities and ultimately deciding what actions will be taken the next time such an event is planned and executed.
Everything is documented and put in the file for the next big event. In most cases, key or strategic actions are scheduled for completion and assigned an “owner.”