As more and more organizations turn to project management best practices to increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace, there's one thing they're consistently forgetting to do: Learn from past mistakes.
Projects are inherently risky and messy things, but taking a regular and consistent approach to learning from experience can help reduce that risk. And while I freely admit that no two projects are exactly alike, this learning can be incorporated into any project management methodology.
Here are a few suggestions to help any project team learn from experience:
1. Establish a venue for capturing lessons learned: Whether you call it a postmortem, a project review or a project retrospective, the fact is the same: Most organizations don't do them. Many project teams move from one project to another without ever taking a breath, let alone taking the opportunity to capture lessons learned from the last project.
2. Share what has been learned: Even among organizations that do take the time to do a project retrospective, very few of them actually share what they've learned. If lessons learned are captured and then tucked away in a file somewhere, the exercise doesn't do any good. Not only your own team, but other teams within the organization can benefit from a culture that freely shares lessons learned upon the completion of a project.
3. Learning doesn't work as a "corporate" initiative: It's natural for organizations to try to formalize the learning process into a forced and contrived corporate project. "Corporate" is all too often the same as "bureaucratic," which employees are more likely to avoid.
4. Don't make learning a one-time activity: Project learning should be ongoing and interactive. Don't let it become an isolated activity that happens rarely.
Regardless of your project management methodology, it's important to create a culture and environment where project learning can take place. What does your company do to capture best practices and learn from experience?
More project management tips by Ty Kiisel:
4 tips for a happier project team
Want to be a project leader? Hone these 5 traits for project management success
9 signs your project may be in trouble