Learning lessons from past mistakes makes for better projects in the future. However, an article by Mel Bost notes that an actionable Project Risk Management Plan is just as important as a Project Closeout and Lessons Learned Plan. In other words, instead of learning from projects after they are complete, learning about risk and concerns as you go may be just as beneficial. Bost uses his own on the job example to illustrate his point:
I once worked for a Manger in an IT Project Office who said to me “You are going to be my audio visual man.” To me that sounded like a very menial job but I began to ask questions about what that really entailed. Because our conference rooms had not been installed with dedicated audio visual equipment, each time a project manager or other project lead presented to the group, I would have to check out a projector and any cabling from our HR department and set it up in advance of the presentation. Since HR had only five such projectors, it meant scheduling the equipment in advance of a presentation and then securing it on the day of the presentation to be sure someone else did not beat me to the equipment. As I learned over time, the projector and related cabling was just as important to the success of the presentation as the presenter being present to deliver the presentation. I learned that all the competencies had to be in place for a successful presentation if the group and the company were to gain from the work. Over time as I began to present more project work to the group, I realized just how important the audio visual equipment really was.
Bost notes that we need to be able to learn from projects as they are happening and after they are completed instead of trying to learn one way versus another. While learning from past mistakes and correcting them can be beneficial, using risk management every step of the way is what Bost believes all organizations should be doing in the first place.
Another lesson that can be learned from this article is that there is no one direct path to success. Using all tools at your disposal will almost always prove more beneficial than sticking to one and only one method. Letting your projects teach you all they can will give you a leg up on your competitors, and that is something everyone can get on board with.