Site Purpose

Sound Approaches to Lessons Learned

The site references preferred tools and techniques used to support the effective implementation of project lessons learned (LL).

LL in projects is a form of Analytical Evaluation involving Component Evaluation*. Component Evaluation judges each aspect separately (project knowledge areas and project process groups), and synthesizes these findings to draw conclusions about the evaluand (item) as a whole. Each component is evaluated on dimensions of merit, relevant to that component, rather than to the evaluand as a whole.

Operationally Defining Lessons Learned

There are many terms that are used to describe Project LL. Here are some of the more common references noted in project benchmarking and best practices:
  • Project Evaluation
  • Project Assessment
  • Project Analysis
  • Project Quality Review
  • Post Project Review
  • Project Audit
  • Project Appraisal
  • Project Post Mortem
  • After Action Review
  • Post Project Close-out
  • Project Debrief
  • Agile Retrospectives
  • PRINCE2 Lessons Log
  • PRINCE2 Lessons Learned Report
The term used throughout this website is LL. While LL have application to other areas (i.e., ongoing operations), the focus of this website is on projects. Projects are temporary and unique endeavors which are undertaken to address a product, service or result.

*Source: The term Component Evaluation was coined by Scriven (1991).

Evaluative vs. Descriptive Knowledge

Lessons learned are a form of evaluative knowledge, ways of knowing that involves a determination of merit (quality), worth (value) or significance (importance). This is different than descriptive knowledge, which does not involve synthesis. For example, the car is red and is a convertible may be descriptive knowledge; whereas, this red convertible is perceived to be prettier based on survey results when compared to the gray convertible (evaluative knowledge).