In many of my essays and presentations over the years I have emphasized that lessons learned are all around us. ‘
Every time you take an action with a result, there is an opportunity for lessons learned.
Expected results versus actual results is the key to defining lessons learned. But capturing, and documenting, and sharing lessons learned adds a new dimension to the equation. The old ‘After Action Review Framework’ is just the starting point.
So, what are some of the more subtle points in developing truly actionable lessons learned?
1. As much as possible, try to capture lessons learned as quickly as possible after the ‘action.
2. If your PMO has a Lessons Learned Framework in place, use it. Do not reinvent the wheel. It will reinforce continued use and result in consistent and repeatable outcomes.
3. Be prepared to reconcile differences in perception and perspective in different observers of the action and result.
4. If your organization does not have a Lessons Learned Framework, use your project team’s experience to promote adoption of lessons learned—and the consistent use of a single framework–throughout the PMO. Your project team can add real value to promoting a consistent Lessons Learned culture.
5. Use an online repository to store and share lessons learned. Breakfast Forums are a good way to get project managers accustomed to publicly share experiences.
6. ‘Actionable’ means being prepared to turn lessons learned into lasting process improvements for the organization. Remember: no process was ever created that could not be improved by judiciously applying lessons learned.
Lessons learned are the lifeblood of a mature PMO culture. A good lessons learned process will provide the headway for a successful organization.
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