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Lessons learned

Following the lively discussion on lessons learned, Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell have created a web briefing, summarising the key points made. Looking at the report, I think there are three main branches of the original discussion:

  • When and how to capture lessons learned
  • How and when to share lessons learned
  • Adoption - Issues, motivation and ways to gain adoption

Lets start with the when and how, Elisabeth and John's briefing stated:

"We should not wait until the end of a project to carry out Lessons Learned. The danger of waiting until the end of a project to identify, capture and analyse lessons is that most project team members will already be focussed on the next project. Project momentum will have slowed down and most of the team will see this as a 'box ticking' exercise. As a result, only a fraction of the lessons that could be valuable to future projects are recorded and passed on. Even if an organisation has an effective method of communicating its lessons and learning from them, the most important element (identifying and capturing Lessons Learned) will have been compromised.

Projects are generally split into a number of phases, milestones or gates and will overlap with other projects that are approaching the same phase in their project life cycle. Lessons Learned Reviews should be carried out at the end of each formal phase of the project and any learnings rapidly utilised both within the project being reviewed and in other related projects.

Setting up a Lessons Learned log during the project start-up will help to establish the process as a core part of project management. Encouraging its use, and regularly reviewing it as part of the risk management process will also make it more meaningful and relevant to the work of the team. Ongoing capture of learnings “as you go” will also make it a lot easier to incorporate Lessons Learned in the end of project report."

What are your thoughts, is there anything that could be added?


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