Lessons Learned Blog

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How to Make Your Lessons Learned Initiative Succeed

Many organizations have attempted to implement a lessons learned system only to find that their best efforts fall far short of their expected results. At that point the system is either abandoned or it requires significant rework to bring back to life. With proper planning and consideration at the outset of the initiative this outcome can be avoided. To achieve success in your lessons learned initiative it’s important to understand the reasons why lessons learned systems fail. The three most typical reasons are:

What is a Lessons Learned System?

If you've been around project management for a while you've heard of the concept of lessons learned. Often completed at the end of a project in the form of a post-mortem or retrospective, lessons learned are collected because the project checklist tells you to do it. Rather than being another tedious project closeout task at the conclusion of a long arduous project, lessons learned can and should be a much more powerful instrument that can yield great savings in terms of time and money. So, how do you do this? First off, don't look at a lesson learned as single one off item that's jotted down with the hope that you'll never encounter that situation again. Instead, think of lessons learned as a system. A system involves the orchestration of people, process and tools to achieve a desired outcome. Let’s take each of these three elements and break it down: