Bspecific project and share with the team the reasons behind the requirements. Once you’ve communicated
the plan, work to build a culture that embraces the
value of sharing information and collaborating.
DON’T THINK TOOLS ARE ENOUGH
Today, project teams have numerous options that
make capturing and sharing lessons learned in real
time easier than ever before: digital collaboration
tools; document repositories like project software,
wikis and team rooms; and knowledge sources, such
as websites and internal databases.
But it is not enough for the project manager to
simply make these tools available to the team. He or
she should craft a structured approach to knowledge
sharing at the outset of any new project. Rather than
default to using every tool available, consider which
tool would be most useful to this particular project.
Make measured choices and communicate that
rationale to team members.
If this project’s knowledge-sharing process includes
the use of a new tool or application, don’t assume that
everyone is fluent in it. Ensure that all team members
and appropriate stakeholders have access and training
so that all can collaborate throughout the project.
DO SET THE EXAMPLE
The project manager must continually promote the
capture of lessons learned throughout the project.
Demonstrate the desired code of conduct for captur-
Best practices dictate that the final phase of a project, known as project closure, brings everything to an
orderly close and formal acceptance of the project’s
outcomes. It is in this phase that project practitioners
typically concentrate on documenting lessons learned.
Yet relegating that process to the project close does
a disservice to our teams. By encouraging them to
share knowledge throughout the project, we can foster more effective teams and bring larger value to our
“Lessons learned are certainly valuable for the proj-
ect manager, but more importantly the intellectual
capital captured during the process produces valuable
assets for the organization,” says Steven DelGrosso,
MSc, PMP, the director of IBM’s Project Manage-
ment Center of Excellence and PMI vice chair. “In my
experience, knowledge captured has driven process
improvements that are leveraged by other project
managers across the organization and, in certain cir-
cumstances, have produced hard assets replicated and
used by other teams.”
Here are the do’s and don’ts of helping your team
get the most value from lessons learned.
DO MAP OUT A TEAM STRATEGY
Each team member may have a different understanding of what knowledge sharing means, when it
occurs in the project process and what value it holds
for the organization. To get everyone on the same
page, meet early to discuss the desired outcomes
of the project—including capturing key lessons for
future projects. Make it clear that knowledge sharing must be an integral part of the team’s day-to-day
Oftentimes organizations have guidelines in place for
lessons learned, and that can be a good starting point
when crafting a plan. But the project manager has the
responsibility to customize those requirements to the
RIGHT FROM THE START
Relegating lessons learned to
the project close can hurt the
team—and the organization.
BY DEBORAH A. DELL, PMP
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