In the course of my work developing an “actionable” framework for project lessons learned, I have learned that one of the great facilitating actions contributing to a robust and “actionable” Project Lessons Learned Framework is an active Project Risk Management Plan

Many project organizations already incorporate Risk Management as a capability in their planning and execution of projects, but many others have not reached the stage where they really appreciate how a Risk Management Plan can contribute to project control, outcomes, and success.

Although it is not necessary to have a Risk Management Plan to apply the Project Lessons Learned Framework I have developed, the real power in having a Risk Management Plan lies in the fact that “Significant Events” that may become “Candidates” for Lessons Learned may already have been identified in Risk Mitigation Planning and Risks Triggered during a project.  That makes it easier to collect as many real Significant Events as necessary to complete a Project Lessons Learned exercise.

Risk Management is, of course, an attempt to anticipate actions and events in a project for which the organization has not formally planned, but which could impact the project. 

Risk Management is also a way to address a project’s “assumptions” that might previously have been considered to be unchanging during the course of the project.  We all know from experience in managing projects, however, that initial “assumptions” almost never stay the same during projects.  So, Risk Management is a technique for planning and taking action for assumptions that change during a project.

Risk Management is an exercise in which you identify possible events that might lead to adverse consequences for a project.  Mature project organizations or PMOs that embrace Risk Management techniques are also more likely to embrace “change” which, as we have observed in other blog posts, correlates highly with embracing Project Lessons Learned.

Risk Management also usually involves some discussion of how risks could introduce gaps in expected-versus-actual results for a project. 

Project organizations that do not formally have a Risk Management Plan in place for individual projects should, of course, still pursue Project Lessons Learned exercises at the close of their projects.  As the organizations gain more experience in capturing, documenting, and sharing lessons learned, they will also become more aware of systemic risks in their business or project context which, in turn, should make it easier to introduce a Risk Management Framework that addresses the portfolio of projects and individual projects as well.

Ask yourself whether your organization fully utilizes its Risk Management Plans and Frameworks in assisting in Project Lessons Learned exercises.  You can play a leadership role in introducing the link between Risk Management and Lessons Learned.

Thanks for your attention.

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