From the Project Management Guide:
But what we should all be trying to do is make sure we are not the only ones to learn from our mistakes. Making sure others in our organisation, or even our profession, get the benefit of our experience is an important part of our professional lives.
So how do we go about this? Well, first of all, we need to recognise when we have made mistakes, when we have not taken the best action in a given situation. This needs a certain amount of honesty, and to be done well, it needs time to really consider the project as a whole.
The best way of doing this is to analyse the project when it comes to an end. Hopefully, the project will come to an end successfully, with the end result we wanted delivered. But it may be that the project has been stopped early, for whatever reason. Regardless, at this point we need to evaluate a number of things:
- Exactly how successful was the project really?
- What actions did we take that helped?
- What actions did we take that didn’t?
- What problems occurred?
- How did we deal with them?
- Were there things we could have done better?
- Were there things we didn’t do that could have helped?
As you can see, there is a lot of ground to cover. You will also note that a lot of this involves honestly looking at your own work. Now, this can be tough, especially when looking at places where we messed up. But it is only by examining our mistakes that we can learn from them.
This should be standard project management practice but often this ‘figuring out what went right and wrong’ gets cut short as staff get quickly moved on to new projects and interest levels and commitment wane. It’s very useful to have a running ‘lessons learnt’ activity going on from the start of every project that incorporates insights from other programmes and projects as well. This is tricky to set up but if done appropriately can yield enormous benefits and a justifiable return on investment.
See also here.
PS Deliberate misspelling of course…