Are you familiar with the lessons learned concept? You know, those meetings supposedly held after the project completion. These meetings are really important, and the main purpose is to gather feedback and ideas. How can you persuade your team to participate on lessons learned meetings? Here are the main Dos and Don’ts.
- The good, the bad, the ugly: The best lessons learned meetings I have participated were organized in 3 steps: the Good, the Bad the Ugly. Have your team gather around a round table. Give everybody the chance to nominate a good, a bad and an ugly fact about the project. Everybody must contribute with an idea, and do not move to next item on the list until we have found sufficient goods.
- Praise your team: Well done! Not only you as project manager have to praise your people, but Lessons Learned meetings are a great chance for team members to praise each other for great skills, great solutions they found together, or just a wonderful time as a team.
- Speak your minds: Good or bad use these meetings to share your feedback. Don’t be afraid to complain about an idea or a team mate. Just throw away that chip from your shoulder, so we can happily start a new project.
- Brainstorming: Can we do things in a simpler manner? Fabulous ideas may come from any team member.
- Prevention is cheaper than cure. Lessons Learned meetings should generate ideas to prevent trouble. We just hate the “What if?” questions that arise after disaster happens. Is there a simpler/secure way of doing things?
- Keep it simple, stupid. In many Lessons Learned meetings we realized there were simpler methods to solve a specific task or the documentation process.
- Improving as we do things: You don’t need to wait for the project to end to have the Lessons Learned meetings. Meetings organized as the project progresses can bring fabulous ideas that help the ongoing project.
- Documents only? No. Meetings are a must. One of my best yet most introvert team players I have worked with really hated these meetings. He thought Lessons Learned are very judgmental and time consuming, and not everybody feels comfortable throwing stones at their mates. Yet the real issue with the documents is that they are written by someone and they die in a locker. And what is the value? Zero!
- Don’t just send a follow up survey: Yes everybody is busy. But surveys will only captivate part of the feedback. Lessons learned meetings are a great time to speak and be listened to.
How important is putting together a simple process for collecting feedback when a project reaches its end? Very! Once the learning has been captured, do share the best practices with the other team to avoid making the same mistakes.
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