Crack Open the Safe

safe_keeping.jpgLessons Learned are the nuggets of knowledge derived from past experience and outcomes to promote the reoccurence of desirable results or prevent the reoccurence of undesirable outcomes.  It’s about figuring out what went wrong and what was right.  So. why keep your lessons a secret?

Use of lessons learned is a principal component in project management methodology; it is standard practice that enables organizations to reap knowledge from past project experience and apply that knowledge to current or future projects to avoid repeating the same mistakes or misteps.  While no project is identical to another, the collection and communication of lessons learned documentation is apt to save the next similar project or allow a project manager to more effectively manage a project.  Yet, too few who practice lessons learned actually share their information with others.  Strange, isn’t it?  If you don’t share it, why do it?

Think about the absurdity of it all – When you have different projects with different people managing them, the same mistakes may be made without anyone recognizing it.  Simply documenting results and storing them for safekeeping is not good enough.  The gems uncovered in lessons learned workshops are worth the PMO’s investment in time spent scouring for and sharing results.

In many organizations, the PMO aggregates the results and assesses the need for enhancement to the project management methodology and training programs.  This is the right approach for establishing a good continuous improvement cycle, but needs more to become a great process.  Evolving from good to great requires comprehensive scrubbing of data, multi-channel communication of results and findings, and interactive working sessions between project stakeholders.

What good are lessons learned if you don’t have the mechanism in place to shout “Danger!” when project teams are about to hit a pothole previously identified through another team’s journey?  Alternately, what good are gold nuggets of best practices is the wealth is not shared with others?

Lisa DiTullio

Lisa DiTullio & Associates

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