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Hot wash in action

March 16, 2008

The crux of the hot wash process is the meeting. This is where problems are identified and the ideas for solutions are generated. To ensure that you get the best out of the meeting, introduce some structure and formality into the process. You also need to fill some key positions to assist maintaining the best pace and keeping the content valuable, but relative to the meeting objectives.

The key steps are:

  • Introduce,
  • Run through the agenda, and
  • Conclude.


The meeting begins with just that. Introduce all participants, in particular, identifying the student, the facilitator and the scribe just in case that they aren’t known – these are your key players in the meeting.

The next step is to describe the intent, format and objectives. The sooner the participants realise the importance and how they can contribute, the faster you will get meaningful information and suggestions. The key concepts are energy and enthusiasm, so your facilitator must be able to entertain as well as direct the meeting. Read out the agenda, explain the LIAR process and reinforce that everything will be used. If it comes up, it goes on the board for later consideration.

Finally, split your note board into four columns, heading them with the four words that make up the LIAR acronym.

Run through the agenda

Start the agenda as soon as possible afterward to instil a sense of urgency in the proceedings. Grab the first topic, select the first person and hit them up with the four LIAR questions, noting their thoughts under the appropriate column. If they stall or stumble, move on to the next question. Multiple statements are allowed for each question and ‘blanks’ are also permitted (there is no point in forcing someone to come up with something just to fill the list). Allow interjections but ensure that the pace is maintained throughout.

Once a participant has finished, move onto the next until everyone has commented on the topic and then move onto the next topic.

Allow answers to be repeated, this will help identify strong points or trends and if some points refer to multiple topics, let the contributor refer to the relevant items in the list but don’t let the agenda get hijacked.


Once all topics have been completed, we then move into the review and conclude part of the meeting. We want to maintain the energetic pace, so it is important that you don’t get bogged down in discussion. The components of this part of the meeting are:

  • Review and assign priorities
  • Explain the follow-up
  • Close the meeting

Review and assign priorities: We now start with he first column (Learn) and ask each participant two questions: what had (or will have for later questions) the greatest impact on training effectiveness and what most affected (or will affect) you? The answer may be the same for both questions but regardless, place an asterisk beside each point that is identified (two if the same point was chosen). Each time a point is chosen, add another asterisk to see which points affect the most people in training.

Do the same for the final three columns, one at a time so that each participant has a little time to think about their next choices.

Explain the follow-up: Let the participants know that you are now going to use that information to generate an action plan (see next post for more info). As a training manager, you may not share their priorities or have the appropriate resources but you will take on board their suggestions and criticisms and will implement whatever changes you can to improve the overall training effectiveness.

Set deadlines there and then for releasing your action plan and the minutes to this meeting. Make a commitment to the participants and keep it, otherwise, next time around they will be a little less enthusiastic about contributing.

Close the meeting: Thank the participants for their time and suggestions. Ask them for feedback about the process (not necessarily given right there – may want to wait for the action plan).

Next post: After the hot wash

Download my free e-book NOW YOU TELL ME The seven things that I wish I’d known before I started training on the job”.

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