Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sacred PM Practices -- Lessons Learned

The final assumption that I tested in my project management research project (introduced in a Jan 25, 2009 posting), was a project’s collection and use of lessons learned. I wondered whether a difference between project success and project failure might be that a successful organization might learn from its own successes and failures.


  • The majority of the projects were successful without conducting such meetings.
  • Of the 56% of the projects that did not conduct such a meeting, nearly all of the respondents reported that such an activity should have been performed.

My experience with lessons learned is limited to a one-time meeting at the end of the project, where what is discussed (i.e., lessons) is largely or entirely ignored the next time around. When have you send lessons learned used? Has it made a difference?


  1. Hi Jeff. I have a small handful of workshop-style events that I am a lead presenter for, done in conjunction with an academic institute. After each one I write myself an after-action review. I also send it to the team at the institute.

    When the next iteration comes around, I pull out the AAR for reminders.

    This seems to work for "repeating" projects where the number of key people is relatively few.

    With larger projects, that take place over a longer timeframe, I've found that the chief barrier to really engaging in, hearing, and implementing self-assessments is arrogance. People involved think: 1) it was a one time project so lessons are unimportant; 2) I will remember this next time, no need to write anything down; 3) this feedback is for someone else, not for me.

    Thanks for the good post.

  2. prokect teamsareall differnt, projects are different.

    Personal reflection and industry surveys are probably a better source of lessons learned than sanitised PIRs.

    Unless you are attempt number 3 at a partucular project :)