April 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm #159406
What are your tips for making the lessons learned debriefing (or other knowledge capture methods) more productive for your career as a project manager, for the development of the project team, and for the good of the organization? What questions should you ask in these exercises? How do you best transfer this knowledge to other project managers and to future projects?
April 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm #159428
I know this is going to be a “duh” no brainer comment – but document and disseminate after you collect.
In my experience, collecting data is what a lot of people focus on.
But if that information goes into a black hole that only one or two know the magic spell to access, you might as well not bothered to collect it to begin with.
April 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm #159426
Karen “Kari” UhlmanParticipant
Page 4 of this presentation helps us to apply “lessons learned”: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2005cmmi/thursday/midha.pdf
April 27, 2012 at 8:02 pm #159424
I’ve been through this process three times now. Each time with a different top administrator and a repeat of the same cause. Lack of planning creates bad decisions as they are not fully developed and now I get to deal with the litigation that ensues. My recommendation for my organization is don’t waste the time and energy. The right questions were asked, the responses fully documented, publicly posted for all staff to see, and then not implemented.
April 27, 2012 at 8:24 pm #159422
Are you referring to Kari’s example?
May 1, 2012 at 2:09 am #159420
Gathering the lessons learned is the easy part. Using them is the hard part. I suggest building a projec management process the includes reviewing lessons learned. Along with that, the lessons learned need to be documented, disseminated, and readily retrievable for future projects. Then, the entire process needs buy-in and adoption from project teams. No problem, right.
May 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm #159418
Amy L. SingerParticipant
Lessons Learned – Though this refers mainly to things that went wrong during a project, better practices include reviewing every project for things that went right as well as those that didn’t. Identify how/why things went well or didn’t. Collaborate to identify ways to improve in the areas that didn’t go well and to ensure the things that worked well will be repeated. The key to actually “learning” lessons is accountablility. Once methods are identified to avoid the pitfalls, add them to your process for the next few projects and review the outcome to see if they worked, tweak as necessary, and then make sure the perfected process is followed.
May 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm #159416
Lessons learned are useless unless they become part of the process. For my teams that may mean a change to our value stream on the kanban board, updating planning templates to ensure we ask the right questions next time around, etc.
If you are putting them into slides or a document that isn’t a part of the regular daily workflow, don’t waste your time.
May 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm #159414
Amy L. SingerParticipant
May 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm #159412
GSA has done a great job collecting lessons learned on managing the Presidential Transition process. GSA is responsible for getting the space for the Transition team, configuring it (and all the technology in it), etc. Gets more interesting when the incumbent President is not a candidate because then they have to collect the requirements from multiple campaigns before the election, figure out what they can do before a winner is announced (similar set-ups desired in the space etc) and what has to be done after a winner is announced. One lesson they learned was a better way to capture lessons learned. After the 2000 election, they interviewed folks after the Inauguration when things had calmed down. Got the big lessons learned but missed several of the smaller ones. So in 2008, they had several places designated for leaving lessons learned during the project. If someone had an “I wish we had” moment, they could jot it down on a Post-It, sign it (for follow-up if needed) and leave it in one of the designated areas. Assigned folks gathered the notes throughout the process. They also took the time to talk to folks during the project about lessons learned. In the end, the team turned it all into both a tabbed reference book and also a CD with hyperlinked documents for the next team in 3.5 years
So collect along the way, and then make the results easy to use for future groups.
May 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm #159410
Great point Amy. I encourage my teams to do a fair amount of experimentation to see if a proposed change to the current process might be an improvement. If the experiment yields positive results, it becomes part of our process. One reason I love kanban! 🙂
May 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm #159408
Good point Deb, but I’d say that documenting and disseminating is necessary, but not sufficient.
Unless they are worked into what gets used in normal operations (templates, training, etc.) they won’t really get incorporated.
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