In large organizations with siloed depart- ments and challenging communications, knowledge transfer can be difficult—and project outcomes can be handicapped. Yet knowledge transfer has the potential to improve outcomes and contribute to the
dynamic pool of organizational knowledge. So
how can you motivate team members to share and
document their lessons learned—and heed lessons
learned by other teams?
In my experience, there are four reliable ways
to get the entire team excited about sharing lessons learned: Start early in the project, incorporate
reflection into your processes, hold open conversations and take advantage of useful tools.
First of all, encourage team members to reflect on
lessons learned from previous projects they were
part of. This can occur either during kickoff meetings or while creating a risk management plan.
Since everyone has unique experiences and knowledge to bring to the table, it engages people on a
personal level—and creates a perfect opportunity
to transfer learning within the team.
Here’s another example illustrating the value
of early-stage knowledge transfer. A colleague
recently asked me to consult on a project to roll
out an organization-wide policy. During our first
conversation about the project, which hadn’t yet
launched, we discussed the current state of the
organization compared to the desired state outlined in the policy. She listed a few departments
that she and her team already had well-established
relationships with and that were essentially already
Tricks of the Trade
Capturing and communicating lessons learned is a critical part of knowledge transfer. Here’s how to
get team members to share their insights—and pay attention to others’.
Kelly Warmington, PMP
doing what the policy called for.
Had we not had this conversation, we might
have gone into the project assuming all departments needed to change. This early opportunity for
reflection allowed us to consider existing knowledge that could inform our work.
In this case, I recommended that an integral part
of the project planning phase include a positively
framed conversation about what some departments were already doing right.
Translating a team member’s fleeting thoughts into
collective, purposeful and actionable team learning
is an important component of knowledge transfer.
One way to achieve this is through well-facilitated,
reflective practice, which can happen throughout
the life of a project.
My colleagues and I recently used this method
after hitting the one-year mark of an improvement
initiative. We held a session in which participants
passed through a series of stations. At each station,
we asked for general reflections and addressed specific issues relative to the project. We also included
different formats and forums for communicating
ideas: written, spoken and visual. We even took
five minutes at the end of the session to debrief the
process itself with the participants.
Not only was the session efficient, but it generated extremely rich, actionable information about
the improvement project thus far, and served as a
model for soliciting feedback in the future.
At another recent event, we engaged staff in an
opportunity to openly reflect on those we-should-have-known-better moments. Employees were
and even paper-
based tools can
help your team