My Review Year in Review

Grand Prix Milwaukee, my last major event of the year, is in the books. 2016 was a big year for me as a judge – I worked 13 Grand Prix, 5 Opens, 2 Regional Championships, and 5 PPTQs. I served as a Head Judge for my biggest event to date, coordinated about 350 PPTQs in the Mid-Atlantic Region, took headshots for about 200 judges, and presented at 4 judge conferences. And I was promoted to Level 3, the culmination of hundreds of hours of effort by a lot of people, some of whom I’ve never met in person.

But how did I do as a reviewer?

Earlier this year I wrote about how to use a review dashboard to get a data-driven approach to improving as a reviewer. (Before you continue reading, you may want to read or review that original post.) Now’s the time to take another look at the dashboard to see how I measured up to the goals I set for myself based on the following Key Performance Indicators (KPI) I was tracking.

Percent of Event Days with a Review Written: 86%
That’s not bad, but could be better. It’s buoyed somewhat by the first half of the year. As the year went on, I had a few big misses in August. During that time I missed writing reviews for an entire Open because of some personal issues that got in the way of giving good feedback.

Ultimately, I’m okay with forgiving myself for missing that event. I knew going into the weekend that this was a “significant and exceptional circumstance” in my life affecting my performance, and I chose to deviate from my normal goal of providing feedback because I just didn’t have the emotional energy to spare on it at that time. When looking at your results from the year, make sure that you’re not letting the occasional anomaly push you into drawing conclusions you shouldn’t.

The New Jersey Open notwithstanding, the other misses, were just a casualty of stacking too many events too close. I kept getting great opportunities to judge events for organizers I liked working for or cities I wanted to visit, resulting in a lack of downtime to process the events and give good feedback. This was actually one of my concerns going into the year.

Now that I’ve got data backing up my theory that stacking seven weekends in a row is a bad idea, I’m pacing myself better on 2017 commitments. Next year, I’m only looking at a couple back-to-back weekends, and no more back-to-back-to-back, much less back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back weekends.

Percent of Weekends with a Self-Review Written: 75%
Ouch – that percentage is significantly worse than the previous statistic. My review dashboard indicates that I missed writing self reviews almost exclusively this fall. I was aware that I was letting these slide, but I also felt that something had to give. I was already spending plenty of time on introspection while working on my Pre-Event Interview. A lot of my “judge homework” time was being taken up by studying for the Level 3 test; and my job was hitting its quadrennial busy period. Still, being under 80% here hurts.

Lag Between Event and Review of Another Judge: 5.3 days
I’m pretty happy about this number. Part of my success in this area comes from (and I’m not making this up) flying to events. I like to tell other judges that I write my best reviews at 30,000 feet – I don’t have any distractions, and the event is fresh in my mind. Additionally, travel time doesn’t feel like a waste if I can submit a review or two the night I get home from a Grand Prix.

Lag Between Event and Self-Review: 6.9 days
This number is a little weaker than the previous one. I tend to write reviews of other judges before I write my self-review, and sometimes that self-review will follow a couple weeks after an event. Overall, though, this average is still (barely) under a week. So while I want to keep an eye on this number, I think this lag is acceptable.

One number I didn’t track was the actual count of reviews written. When I started the year, it wasn’t that critical to me – I figured that significant numbers would be a byproduct of events worked as long as I wrote a review every day. It turns out, though, that I wrote more than a few reviews that went beyond the one-per-event-day target, including a trio of L2 Evaluations, a number of events where I reviewed multiple judges, and a few certification reviews. Next year I plan to track this count.

Now that we’ve looked through my 2016 KPI, let’s see how we did on my goals:

1. Consistently write at least one review every day that I judge.
I’m pleased with my performance on this goal. I definitely got better at writing reviews on shoulder days – knowing that I wanted to write a review really focused my attention on what I was doing on Fridays and Sundays.

2. Write a self-review for every Grand Prix or Open.
I don’t think I can consider myself successful at this goal, especially because I got worse on it as the year went on. Ironically, at a time when I wasn’t writing many self-reviews, I was reading them. During my L3 Checklist preparation and Pre-Event Interview, past reviews of me were helpful in identifying specific examples of my strengths and weaknesses.

3. Write reviews within two weeks after the event.
The numbers tell me that I should feel good here. Since I generally do what numbers tell me to do, I will feel good. I wrote only two reviews of other judges more than two weeks after the event. Both were from GP Detroit, an event where I was sick as a dog both during and after the event. Other than that setback, I feel like I did a good job of providing timely feedback.

That brings me to next year. Now that I’ve reviewed my reviews for 2016, what are my goals for 2017? And what are the KPI I’m going to track to get me there? I’ll be back on The Feedback Loop next month to share these goals and the process I used to set them.

Riki‘s Note: John Brian has written 78 reviews in 2016, a historically significant accomplishment. Based on my cursory examination, he is only the fourth judge in the history of the Judge Program to reach such a total in one calendar year. He’s “only” third in yearly total for 2016, but that’s like Luis Gonzalez hitting only 57 home runs the year that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had their epic duel.

In actuality, John Brian’s total for the year is likely in the Top 10 of annual review totals. In a single year, he’s leapfrogged from 179th to the Top 50 in lifetime reviews written. A repeat performance in 2017 would place him in the Top 20. John Brian’s continued focus on analytics makes it likely that he will not only repeat but also improve upon his noteworthy reviewing in 2016.

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