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Learning the Hard Way about Projects Is the Best Way

Mistakes are the building blocks of life, so it’s no surprise that organizations are keen on using them to help prevent mishaps from recurring. This creates a dilemma because we learn more from our own mistakes than the mistakes of others, but it’s ineffective to have everyone make the same mistakes in an organization. There has to be a better way, right? In a post for the PM Perspectives Blog, Elizabeth Harrin explains how to strike a happy medium in order to share project experience.

Time to Talk Experience

One of the most tried and true ways of passing knowledge is sharing stories to one another. Meeting with a project manager and talking about prior projects can help you gain a real sense of how the project was as a whole. For starters, the tone will vary depending on how the project turned out in hindsight. The dynamic and more informal way of communicating the story will increase engagement, along with being able to ask the storyteller questions. By talking to someone directly involved with the project, you can ask questions on which aspects were worth the outcome of the project and how they might have done things differently.

Granted, while the benefits of talking with colleagues are great, making time for it can be difficult. As Harrin notes, socialization doesn’t quite fit on a Gantt chart, and many people are busy with their own projects in a day’s time. You need to be in a culture that can share the ideas freely and openly in order to be effective.

None of this is meant to say that the knowledge repository you have now is useless or requires deletion. But it doesn’t serve its original purpose. It now acts more as a way to identify project managers and to look into issues that you’ve talked about with that project manager. It also serves as a way to help project managers remember aspects of their previous projects, but knowledge repositories aren’t as useful as talking to a living, breathing knowledge center.

Harrin goes on to explain how to get the ball rolling for talking to your colleagues:

If you want to learn from your colleagues, you’ve only got to ask them. Take someone for coffee, whether or not their project seems relevant to yours. Ask them what worked. What their favourite memory of the project was. The one mistake that they definitely won’t be doing again.

Tell them yours. Share your failures. Share the challenges, and talk about the successes, because there will be some. These coffee breaks will be some of the most valuable conversations you’ve had, and if everyone shared what they knew when it was needed, we’d have a lot more successful project s and many more happy and effective project teams.

You can view the original post here: http://www.esi-intl.co.uk/blogs/pmoperspectives/index.php/learning-the-hard-way-about-projects-is-the-best-way/

About Austin J. Gruver

Austin is a Staff Writer for AITS. He has a background in professional writing from York College.

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