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Planning for a Productive Retrospective: 4 Steps to Better Learning

The project death march: over budget, past deadline, and way below the belt line of expectations. When this happens, instead of trying to wash your hands of the whole situation, you need to have the intestinal fortitude to review it critically. In a post for PM Hut, Zenkara outlines the four steps for a useful project retrospective.

4-Step Project Success

  • Collect lessons.
  • Ask reflective questions.
  • Collect data.
  • Communicate, a lot.

The post begins by reminding us just how much can go wrong in these projects gone bad:

Failing projects can bring out the worst in people – managers, team members, sponsors and customers alike. All of whom are burnt out and over the project. Most of all they don’t want to be blamed for the failure. It’s critical for the sponsor and managers to step up and sustain an environment that enables staff to call out problems to get them fixed.

Just because your project isn’t over doesn’t mean you can’t start learning lessons now. Try looking through discussion records, progress reports, presentations, past feedback, important emails, or even audit reports. Look for responses within a general narrative to discover the course of the project. Most treat a retrospective look as an opportunity to air their opinions, but you’ll be ready to counter with hard data and decision points. In other words, to add a spine to the blubber of opinion and reflection, you will need to check things like schedules, milestones, cost, and earned value stats.

When the opportunity arises, spend the effort to learn about a project’s progress, and then communicate that progress (or lack thereof) to every relevant person within striking distance. Reflective questions are the best kind to ask at each project meeting. The answers to these questions are potential sources of project insight moving forward, so record them, share them, and revisit them to ensure the project is on track.

Read the original post at: http://www.pmhut.com/planning-for-a-productive-retrospective-4-steps-to-better-learning

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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