We gather so many lessons on projects and each lesson is an opportunity.
But what do we do with these opportunities? How do we convert them into action to achieve a better outcome next time?
Quoting my own coach’s words, “nothing changes if nothing changes”!
Problems such as requirements taking longer to deliver than anticipated, or stakeholders not being available when required, or the team experiencing bottlenecks in their processes, are just some examples of lessons that teams should learn and improve from after the first instance.
Enter the Lessons Learned Process
The Lessons Learned process and documentation comes from an Agile delivery model but is relevant and even instrumental to all projects.
The purpose is to look back over a set time period, to find out how the project team has performed and what has been learnt as a means of improvement. Lessons are then captured in a Lessons Learned document. This document should evolve throughout the project’s lifecycle and become a point of reference for any projects that are getting ready to start.
How the Lessons Learned Process Works
For lessons of a negative impact, the aim is to address what could have gone better and apply strategies to avoid repeating these outcomes in the future.
Remember that taking action to improve from the lesson doesn’t always mean you will be perfect at it the second or even third time around. But, it will help you to be better than the last time and eventually, you’ll avoid encountering the same problems.
Lessons don’t have to be negative
While most lessons learnt come in the form of a negative impact to the project, some are positive. When you capture positive lessons, you’ll have a documented reminder of what you should keep doing.
The other benefit to the Lessons Learned process is that by being committed to seeking continuous improvement, teams become more driven to be realistic when estimating tasks and timelines.
Teams will take a greater interest in improving their overall performance and quality of work. It increases overall accountability. And it promotes a motivated culture to continuously get better.
Implementing improvement from Lessons Learned will naturally benefit the existing project and team, but it also benefits future projects, other teams and all associated stakeholders from experiencing the same issues.
The more time and emphasis that is placed on taking actions from lessons learned, the faster project teams WILL improve!
In short, the Lessons Learned Process and document is the best way to enable projects to consistently get better and DELIVER MORE POWERFUL PROJECTS!
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