Posted by: kerrywills | April 30, 2010

Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it


Every project I am on does lessons learned…sometimes during the project… sometimes at phase ends… and sometimes at the end of the project. We have large team meetings where everyone complains, …shares feedback, about the same things…

  • Not enough time for deliverables
  • Requirements changed too much
  • Role clarity
  • Lack of process and documentation

What I always find interesting is what people do with the lessons learned. Usually they get sent out as notes afterwards and then stored on a network folder never to be seen from again.

Haven't I seen these issues before?

I believe that lessons learned need to be operationalized into the work that is done to prevent them from happening again. To expand on that, I propose that any issue on a project needs to be treated in the same manner – find the root cause, fix it and then operationalize it in a way so it never happens again. In my consulting days of “Lean Manufacturing” I learned of the Japanese phrase “Poke-yoke” which is roughly translated as “mistake proofing.” Many times on issues I see a communication that is sent out the to team…”don’t forget not to do XYZ” and obvisouly after a few weeks people do forget. Mistake proofing means building the solution into the process so that people can’t forget. The simplest form of this is a checklist where people have to look at each item on the list before a deliverable can be marked as done.

What other techniques do people use to document, and more importantly, improve from lessons learned?

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