Learn your lessons


If you have come to the end of a project it is always a good idea to have a review. Hold a meeting to see if there are any lessons that can be taken away and applied to other projects either now or in the future. The temptation however is to only do this when the project has gone wrong. 

It is easy to justify putting time aside to understand the mistakes that were made and how things could have been done better yet the real value lies in looking at those projects that went well. It is self evident that we can learn good things from good projects yet such projects however rarely get a look, probably as we are too busy trying to rectify the problems from bad projects!

The past is no guide to the future and people are notorious for making the same mistakes over and over again yet I urge you to make such reviews a part of your governance regime. All projects have a beginning, a middle and an end yet many just fade away. The gift of closure is yours to give.

I use a very simple process. I get a small group of people who were involved in the project, as a minimum the project manager, assuming there was one, someone involved in delivering the project and someone who is a recipient of the outcomes of the project.

I ask three questions: 

  • What went well
  • What could have gone better
  • What else was of interest

Start with the good stuff as people find it much easier to talk about the bad. If you do it the other way around then the good will never surface. The third question is to capture observations that are neutral but give some insight into areas to address in future. Finding it difficult to engage with people working at remote locations would be an example of such an observation.

Once you have run through the process, you can then identify a small number of points, both good and bad that can be used as recommendations. Again, this should be part of your governance.

Congratulations, your project is now officially put to bed.

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