Celebrating the wins of the year

In my organization, we end each week by sharing information with one another. One of the topics on the standard agenda is called “wins of the week”. Like in life, in general sometimes it feels we concentrate too much on another agenda item called “lessons learned” and on all the problems yet to be solved. It is of course important to learn from our failures and consider how to improve, but we do need to celebrate as well - to remember all the good things we have achieved. Celebration gives us motivation to move forward and to improve!

Wins of the year banner

The end of the year marks a milestone and invites us to pause and reflect. In order to support my organization to pause, reflect, and celebrate, I created an exercise: Wins of the year. Maybe something you would like to try out as well in your organization, so here are the instructions.

The exercise has two parts: team sessions and an award ceremony.

Part 1: Team sessions

First, we have a preparation session with each of our teams separately to collect all the wins of the year from the whole organization. In the session, the team gathers all their wins and prioritizes them. At the end of the session, the team writes down the details of the wins at a team-specific wiki page.

Invitation for a team session

Here is the invite we sent out for the team sessions in case you want to use the same:

“The race is on! What were all the amazing wins of 2019 for our team? Let’s go through them together and decide which one is the greatest of them all!

To prepare for this session, individually write three most important wins of 2019 for your team on big stickers and bring the stickers with you to this session. The wins could be related to anything – a new or an improved feature, new tools or open-source components taken into use, new or improved ways of working, improvements done, lessons learned – just about anything work related that you are proud of! In order to convince the rest of the team that the wins you have listed are the most important ones, please consider also why they are important.

Let’s race to the finish line together and celebrate our wins of the year 2019!”

Agenda for a team session

The agenda for the team sessions is as follows:

  • Everybody to share their proposals and explain in brief why they are important
  • Group the same wins into one
  • Vote for the wins: everybody gets to give three points for the biggest win, two for the second, and one for the third
  • List all the wins in terms of priority at a closed wiki page, add the name of the win, tell what happened, explain why this is important, and share your next steps
Celebrating the wins of the year agenda


Part 2: Award ceremony

After having all the team-specific sessions, we will celebrate the wins of the whole organization by having a common award ceremony, sharing the biggest win of each team and handing out certificates to them.

Post the award ceremony, we will share all the wins the teams have achieved and all the details they had written down in support of each of their wins to inspire us all even more deeply. To ensure this, we will open all the closed team-specific wiki pages used for collecting the information.

Invitation for the award ceremony

Here is the invite we sent out for the award ceremony in case you want to use the same:

“Come and hear all the great things that happened in 2019!
Awards will be handed out and toasts will be raised to celebrate all the wins of the year 2019!

Come prepared! You are the one winning! We all are!

Agenda for the award ceremony

The planned agenda for the award ceremony is as follows:

  • Opening words
  • Teams are walked through in alphabetical order, one by one
    • Name of the team is announced
    • Reason for the win is shared
    • Certificate is handed out
    • Team gets the opportunity to thank everyone and shares why the win was important
    • A toast is raised
  • Closing words



In the award ceremony each of the teams will receive the below certificate as a reminder of the great year we have had:

Let’s all celebrate!

We have not tried out the whole flow yet. Though, the first team session has been held. The result surprised us all! In total, the team came up with 16 different wins. So many amazing things have happened during the past year for just one team! As the wins were plenty, we decided to share details of only the top four wins in the wiki. The rest of the wins are also listed there, so those will not be forgotten either.

Nelson Mandela said “Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.” We are ready to pass a milestone. Let’s all celebrate! Remind ourselves how far we have come, look at the road ahead, and prepare for our next milestone – 2020!

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