The Basics: Skills for a Successful Lessons Learned Session

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Categories: Lessons Learned


Project professionals wear many hats. As writers, you prepare the project's charter to initiate the project. As leaders, you manage project teams. And as an accountant of sorts, you control the project budget.

With the many skills you must possess to oversee a project, you should also be cognizant of the basic skills you'll need when conducting a lessons learned session:

1. Time management

The session should be arranged with a specified meeting start and finish time. Team members will have other projects and tasks to work on, so it is imperative to respect the time they give you during the session.

Start on time and keep the meeting moving. Pay attention to the clock to control the lengthiness of the discussions. This way, the meeting ends when it was arranged to end. To keep the meeting on track, you may have to tell team members when to close on a discussion point or ask them to discuss it more in-depth at a later time. If needed, schedule an additional meeting to talk about that point, or add it to the meeting notes and solicit feedback when you circulate the document.

2. Ability to engage

As the facilitator, you must be able to persuade everyone to participate — from team leads to database administrators.

You should also detach yourself from ranking attendees by their titles. After all, the goal of a lessons learned session is to collect details and feedback on a project's activities and decipher what may or may not be relevant to the next project — no matter the team member's position.

3. Shared vocabulary 

Many times, project teams use jargon that only they know. For example, the word "call" could refer to a programming term or simply to describe a customer service method. If you have not been a part of the project all along, make a point to familiarize yourself with some of the terms that may have been used on the project or may be mentioned in the discussion.

What other basic skills do you use for conducting effective lessons learned sessions?

Posted by Bernadine Douglas on: December 18, 2012 01:10 PM | Permalink

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