What does it take for us to really learn from our experiences?
Having finished our website project, we’re about to review ‘lessons learned’ with the team at ChangeQuest to make sure we build these into future projects. This got me thinking…
A lessons learned process works well when we take the time to reflect on what has happened, and do this with an open mind. It’s no good trying to do it when you’re right in the thick of things. We need to take time to step away from the situation.
This has to be done with a genuine spirit of improvement – it isn’t about who can we blame or finding a scapegoat, but about being really willing to contribute, to help shape the way things will be done in the future. I think we do this best when we keep focused on where are we heading and how best can we get there.
So often lessons learned get left to the end of the project, but these need to be considered all along. If our teams are able to communicate in an open and frank way, then lessons learned will come out naturally. In this way you find out about problems much sooner, while something can still be done about them, rather than have any big surprises at the end. Much of this comes down to fostering good team working, which I’ll focus on another day.
So it works well to capture lessons as you go – certainly at key points in the project and at review meetings. This way you’ll start to benefit much earlier from the improvements, rather than have to wait for the next project.
We do of course learn just as much from things that go well as things that don’t go well. I find I need to remind myself of this, as I tend to focus on things that need improving and take for granted the things that went well.
How about you – what have your experiences been?