Lessons Learned Process

A Formal Approach

The professionalization of project management (PM) necessitates a formal approach to LL. Some of the characteristics of being well-organized include:
  • Sponsorship by senior management
  • Endorsement by stakeholders
  • Recognition by customers, shareholders, or other third party (i.e., regulatory authorities)
  • Integration with the project team and project management office (PMO) roles and responsibilities
  • Standardized templates and forms to support LL collection
  • Policies, procedures and guidelines supporting management of LL
  • Dedicated information systems to support a LL repository
  • Coordinated training to ensure project team members are competent to perform LL tasks
  • Enhanced project performance reports for both summative and formative LL
  • Community of practice to support benchmarking and best practices
At its most simplistic level, the LL process involves basically four steps:
  • Identify LL
  • Collect LL
  • Store LL
  • Review LL
Note: In a comprehensive LL process, there 10 distinct process steps. This conclusion is based upon dissertation research and tested field application, which is discussed in my new book that will be published in 2011.

Lessons Learned as an Input

Baker, Walsh and Marjerison (2000) state a process is made up of activities having a beginning and end. A process takes these inputs (start and stop points) and creates an output (i.e., plan). Harrington (1991) says a process takes an input, adds value to it, and provides an output to an internal or external customer. In this illustration LL serves as an input.

Lessons Learned as an Output

The result of any project activity should result in lessons. These lessons should be captured as appropriate on an ongoing basis. Therefore, systems must be put in place to simplify this process; otherwise, it will likely not be done.

Click here to see the inputs and outputs of lessons learned.

What is Neutrality?

Neutrality is the "0" point on a response scale that does not provide any indication:

  • positive or negative
  • for or against
  • pro or con
  • good or bad

In the context of LL, it is important to resolve neutrality because it is non-directional and not easily interpretable. Neutrality may display the following behaviors:

  • Nothing was done right: negativity to a degree that overshadows any reasonable contribution or communication.
  • non-participation: silence verbally or non-verbally or not in attendance.
  • no opinion whatsoever: can't or won't share any perspectives on any events, but is present.
  • absent presence: unengaged and involved in other activities during discussion of LL, i.e., writing emails, texting, etc.
  • no opinion whatsoever: no considerations (meaningful thoughts) or issues (concerns) expressed.
  • indifference/don't care: have no interest one way or the other.
  • no identified issues: not perceiving anything could be a concern, problem, etc.
  • everything was done right: no critical thinking to review gaps or areas not meeting expectation.