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7 Tips for Making the Team Care about Lessons Learned

Continuous project improvement usually involves what is known as the “lessons learned session.” Apparently, not everyone loves learning lessons. Marian Haus for Voices on Project Management suggests we take a cue from NASA, whose mistakes sometimes have dire consequences the likes of which no one wants to see repeated. NASA developed a knowledge management program that transformed it into a bonafide learning organization. While your failed projects may not involve spacecraft, it’s certainly worth considering how lessons learned can help your organization manage IT risk.

7 “Lessons Learned” Tips

  1. Establish expectations.
  2. Lead by example.
  3. Keep it positive.
  4. Manage the session.
  5. Uphold accountability.
  6. Learn from the good.
  7. Remember the lessons.

One tip worth mentioning is the “establish expectations” rule. Expectations are established at the project’s outset for the very purpose of enabling a lessons learned session in the end. In other words, how can your team learn a lesson if it didn’t have clear goals to begin with?

Additionally, if you’re the manager and you’re not particularly enthused about leading a lessons learned session, how do you think your employees will feel? Stay positive and you will maximize the benefits of this approach. In fact, why not praise the team for its efforts at the beginning of the session? It’s this attitude that will open each member up to explore what could have been done better.

Sessions should be short and sweet. By short, Haus means 1-2 hours, max. By sweet, she means not dominating the sessions with your own commentary / criticism. Instead, be open to input from the team. Moderate to tone down the most dominant voices.

Furthermore, don’t just prattle off empty promises that no one will keep. Give team members action items to follow up on for the next project. This has the added benefit of establishing a visible link between projects and between repeated mistakes. Oh, and by the way, positive achievements can be just as constructive as failures. Run with them too.

Read the original post at: http://www.projectmanagement.com/blog/Voices-on-Project-Management/13151/

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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