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  • Lyle Burns

Project Post-Mortem Part 1: The Growth Mindset

Project Post-Mortem Pt. 1: The Growth Mindset

Just as important as it is to make time to grow your business, it’s equally necessary to take time for yourself to grow personally and evaluate what went well, where you can improve, and where you can get your financials in order.

As Bruce Lee said, “Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” Your goal after every project, tour, or a marketing campaign should be to do exactly that.

Taking time for reflection allows you to sharpen your skills as a business owner, take risks, and produce higher quality work. There’s no one standard way to reflect and develop personally. It’s really up to you to determine how to go about it; however, we can help add structure to the process and provide give some insight.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset.

“They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.”

You need a growth mindset throughout your career as artist. You need to take the time to really look inside and assess what you need to do to improve.

The ability to look at yourself critically, acknowledge where you can improve and where your strengths are, and then put things together to get better is incredibly valuable. You’re reviewing everything to figure out what worked and where to head next.

To do this, we recommend conducting a post-mortem, which is just an end-of-project evaluation.

First, you want to examine the project, the process, and the overall campaign… by yourself, unfiltered, with just your own perspective, which will be different from others’ who were involved. We are often our own harshest critic, which often allows for a greater level of honesty.

So, do a recap of everything from a personal perspective. Look at the whole process, both from a high-level view and from a detailed step-by-step review.

Next, go back and look at that list of goals you made early on, both the performance goals for the project and the personal ones. Which ones did you hit, and which ones did you miss?

What were the causes of this, based on what you did internally and what affected the performance externally that you could have exerted influence over?

Qualitative Analysis

Take a qualitative look at the performance of yourself, your team, the project, and your marketing endeavors.

The biggest question you should be asking is this: was all the work -- the music, the marketing, the touring, the merchandise, and any other actions you executed on and released something you are proud of? That’s the most important question as all of this content has your name on it and impacts your reputation.

If you did something you’re not proud of, ask yourself why, or why you even released it if that was the case, and whether it was worth it.

Your qualitative questions should also examine how good your plan was and why it was or wasn’t good.

Quantitative Analysis

After you finish the qualitative analysis, do the quantitative analysis.

You should have been doing this throughout your marketing efforts to understand the performance of your marketing tactics, but review the data again, looking to determine insights and trends.

These two analyses should help you better understand whether the whole plan was good, if parts were good, what stood out, and much more.

Continue your reflection by outlining successes and failures and determining what contributed to each. You want to determine which successes were repeatable and which were unique.

You also want to understand which failures were avoidable and what their impact was so you don’t make the same mistakes twice.

The idea is not to dwell on these mistakes, but rather grow from them. Remember to maintain the growth mindset.

Lessons Learned

The quantitative analysis is the first step to documenting any lessons learned from your work, from the big lessons to the ones that seem minor. Each one is important as you put them all together, but don’t feel limited to looking at outcomes as lessons.

Also, examine processes, how you felt doing certain things, and things you want to change. Your lessons learned should be holistic, and should be part feeling and part data-backed.

As you take those lessons learned, you begin to develop an understanding of what you want to do again, reuse, or make repeatable. You also can determine what may be valuable, but may not be quite for you.

You can understand areas of the project where you put too much time and energy into it than you needed to.

All of this high level, emotional analysis allows you to refine how you operate to become more efficient, and the reflection will help you develop new ideas.

Sample Personal Questions

  • Are you proud of your finished deliverables? If yes, what made them great? If no, what was wrong or missing?

  • Did you get the results you wanted and did it make an impact?

  • Which of your methods or processes worked particularly well?

  • Which of your methods or processes were difficult or frustrating to use? How would you do things differently next time to avoid this frustration?

  • Anything else could you do better next time?

  • What was the most gratifying or satisfying part of the project?

  • Did you use your time effectively?

  • Was the project and the marketing true to your original vision? If not, how far off was it and what caused the changes? Were the changes for better or worse?

  • Did you grow over the course of the project? How so? How will it impact you going forward?


This was an excerpt from The Noise Complaints Group’s 3rd ebook, Primer series: Music Marketing 101: Fan Monetization. In this book artist can learn how to earn more money, using practical strategies to transform their loyal fans into paying supporters by using analytics to schedule a tour, designing merchandise that sells, and leveraging other creative ways to earn revenue. To read the full book, visit our online store.

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