Work Wiser #5: Apply Lessons Learnt

Hi, my name is Wan How. I’m a career and project management coach. We’re now in January, but in many ways, 2021 feels like a continuation of 2020 and nothing much has changed. But as a project manager, you have an opportunity to do something about this and to inspire change growth and improvement. How do you do this well?

January is also the start of the planning cycle for many projects. If this is the case for you take the opportunity to capture lessons learned from last year’s projects and also to decide on one or two things to improve. Often what happens is we have a whole list of lessons learned and we document it meticulously in the project closure document. Then we feel overwhelmed to try and implement all of that. So instead of doing that just get your team together and ask them, What’s one or two things that we can really focus on and try to make a change in the next year or in the next project.

If you focus in on one or two items instead of dispersing all your energy and attention on all of them, you have a greater chance of bringing your whole team on board and supporting that one or two improvements. Now if you have a project sponsor for the new project, get the sponsor to endorse and support the implementation of this one or two lessons learned. And include this in your project kickoff. Now so far, we’ve only talked about applying lessons learned on one project, but you can scale this up to a collection of projects. So, for example, what’s the biggest challenge at the program level or what’s the greatest opportunity at the portfolio level?

When you bring this discussion up to that next level, you can gather a collection of lessons learned to address that challenge or opportunity so at the at this level, you don’t have to think about lessons learned as a list of to dos or a checklist, you can think of lessons learned as a project in its own right. So think about this, imagine a lessons learned project that’s part of the PMO and set up a smart goal for it. Now once you have a smart goal, you can design a measurement for it and that way you can measure and monitor progress throughout the life cycle of that project.

At the end, document and report back on the impact of the lessons learned and that way at the end, people feel a sense of accomplishment and progress and improvement. And then you can then use that as a spark for the lessons learned, for applying the lessons learned for the next cycle. Thank you for watching.