Lessons Learned

  WHAT

Lessons Learned is a method of reflecting on the process of a project. It allows you to prepare for current and future projects as well to identify process improvements (Rowe & Sikes, 2006). Identifying and analyzing the lessons and outcomes from a project not only helps prevent the same mistakes from being made in the future, but also celebrates successes and takes advantage of organizational best practices (Rowe, 2008).

Our Lessons Learned model allows you to: 
1) NOODLE & TAG: Identify “What went right”, “What went wrong”, and “What needs to be improved” and categorize by area.
2) ANALYZE each of the statements and share and discuss your thoughts.
3) ACTIONS: Identify action items to refine your internal and external processes.

  WHO

Lessons Learned can be used by project managers and team leaders.

  WHY

Too often, a Lessons Learned process is not completed to its full potential. Simply identifying what worked and did not is not enough to effect change in your future projects; a Lessons Learned process needs to include a comprehensive analysis as well as a definitive action plan for change and future improvements in order to be effective. It also should be used as an ongoing process rather than just at the end of a project to ensure all information is properly captured and reflected upon, and no lesson is left behind.

“By not learning from project failures we are doomed to repeat similar situations. By not maximizing on project successes, we miss opportunities to implement good processes and practices to successfully complete existing and future work.” (Rowe & Sikes, 2006)

A proper Lessons Learned process allows you to extract important takeaways from poor decisions, actions, or mistakes, and also allows you to learn from the good decisions and effective actions taken (Westcott, 2005). Celebrating the successes in a project is also key to ensuring that the appropriate recognition is given (Westcott, 2005) and that best practices are used and shared moving forward.

  HOW

1) NOODLE & TAG: Identify “What went right”, “What went wrong”, and “What needs to be improved”. Categorize each by tagging the type of feedback and the area to which it corresponds: People, Process, Technology, Financial, Requirements, Materials, Design/Build, External, Other. The categories can be customized to suit your specific needs.

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2) ANALYZE each of the statements and share and discuss your thoughts in the comments section.

3) ACTIONS: Identify action items to refine your internal and external processes.

  RESULTS

  • List of insights as to what worked well and what did not throughout the project

  • Actions and recommendations to ensure a smoother and more effective process in the future

  • Analysis and candid discussion about what happened and what we can learn

  BENEFITS & IMPACT

This exercise will enable:

Quality – Enable a candid, comprehensive analysis of the lessons in your project and use this knowledge to improve future projects in your organization.

Efficiency – Easily involve all team members and stakeholders in your Lessons Learned process and quickly share the results.

Engagement – Involve all stakeholders to create a comprehensive, effective analysis and develop a better process for the future – one where everyone is on board.

Agility – A defined Lessons Learned process allows you to effectively re-visit your findings and easily evaluate future projects.

  RELATED MODELS

  REFERENCES

Rowe, S. F. (2008). Applying lessons learned. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2008—EMEA, St. Julian's, Malta. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Rowe, S. F. & Sikes, S. (2006). Lessons learned: taking it to the next level. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2006—North America, Seattle, WA. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Westcott, R. (2005). Lessons learned. Quality Progress. http://asq.org/quality-progress/2005/09/problem-solving/lessons-learned.html