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Topics: Communications Management, Organizational Project Management, PMO
How do you effective ensure projects lessons are learned around in your organization ?

Normally we are good to identify lessons to learn, but we are not effective in learning especially in a Global project environment as sometimes we can see some recurrence issues demonstrating that our way of learn is not effective .
How do you effective ensure projects lessons are learned around in your organization ?
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A good question that has been asked many time on this forum. For me, the key is in implementing and not documenting. We normally have this 'ok now we know what not to do so let us make a note and move on' attitude. So we diligently document the lesson and store it for later review. Guess what? Yes, that later never comes since there is always something more important so we or somebody else in the organization repeats the mistake. Documenting is good but as soon as it is identified we should implement the solution immediately, not only on our project but throughout the organization. Sure it takes effort but without doing it NOW I would be so bold as to say that 9 out of 10 lessons 'learned' never gets learned. I worked in an organization where they refused to adopt this approach and the same mistakes were made on projects over and over and over again. But every single project has a lessons learned spreadsheet.

That`s a very important question you are asking there.True lessons learnt are identified, documented, and possible solutions are proposed for implementation. The problem comes in implementing these solution as the same issue arise. A bigger portion of current practitioners are good at putting things on paper but not able to execute what`s on paper. To come back to your question, i have tried to use the root cause analysis as a way to identify recurring issues. This allows for the tracking of similar causes when they start appearing on the next project or phase then at-least i can be able to tell possible outcome and then use previous experience to proffer solutions. Using checklists is another way of using lessons learned. Though it can be very cumbersome but can work. It works like this, Assume you are going to experience almost the same issues in the next project or phase. Then list all the lessons learned into a checklist onto which you will have to tick against any likely issue on you current phase or project and then use it as sort of a watch list.

Documentation is not enough.
How can those LL be utilized within the organization?
How can other project managers search for activities similar to their own project to gain from those lessons?
Utilize a knowledge base system, database, SharePoint, Confluence, etc.
It is not easy though, and often put off until later. If the organization isn't really doing anything to leverage the LL than may be hard pressed to get the teams to participate.

As others have mentioned, it is important for the Project Manager implement a solution quickly during the execution of the project so that you can control quality, or whatever other factor the issue pertains to. In terms of distribution, I have found that leadership (Program/Portfolio Manager) must be bought in that there truly is a Lesson Learned. If there is no buy in - then what you've uncovered will go into your file and not distributed. I treat my Operations Managers as internal customers. I have monthly status meetings and bring the Lessons Learned to them and the functional leadership (ie: Engineering and Installation Managers). I have even included functional leadership in my Quality Management Plan so that they are a part of the solution.

Agree with Andrew. I believe that those lessons should be reflected in our rules, systems, and procedures. Focusing on human behavior and learning is not a good option. They may leave the company, this is called organizational learning. the focus should be on the organization rather than one or two people.

Marcia -

Do a search in the On Demand webinar section of this site to find the webinar I did on improving lessons learned practices about a year ago - it captures most of my key thoughts on this rarely well implemented practice.


Lessons learned should be implemented gradually in a working model:

- Visualization of the workflow;
- Understanding the work system;
- Among the different metrics define which one will identify the need to apply a lesson learned, in other words, lessons learned are usually associated with facts that happened that management could not solve.
- For me it is associated with risk management.

With the advent of AI it is possible to make predictions of behaviors to suggest a decision making, in my view lessons learned should be based on predictive models.

The simplest way to ensure lessons learned are properly leverage is to implement them into your organization process library. For example, if I have a list of concerns I want people to consider, I might create a project checklist or a modified project charter template that I submit to the PMO. They will include it in the OPA libary which will be available for future projects.

This way, the lessons learned are pushed to the project managers, rather than having them pull them. Even if you have a centralized database for your lessons learned, you cannot rely on future project managers being able to properly find all the lessons that are applicable to their project and then implement them properly.

I agree with Andrew that should entered in share drive system for easy access by anyone but these are the hardest part to do in project closing so it is always good to have periodic review with the team and do analysis and put improving suggestion with next work order in SAP so that it pops up when similar work needs to be done.

I recommend reading this article about AI (Artificial Intelligence) in project management.

How AI Will Reinvent Program and Portfolio Management
Analyst(s): Daniel Stang
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