In order to reduce the time people have to spend for the lessons learned input, interviews can be conducted with the key project team members during the project. Issues canvassed by these interviews over the lifecycle of the project can include:
- How successful is/was the overall project approach?
- What are/were the helpers and/or obstacles encountered by the project?
- How well is/was the organisation prepared?
- How effective is/was the decision making and problem addressing strategy adopted for the project?
- How effective is/was the employee involvement in the project?
- Did the workstream deliver its results within the defined time/budget/quality parameters?
- How well do/did people work together on the project?
- How well does/did the project team function as a team?
- How effective is/was communication with stakeholders?
- How can the project be improved?
- What actions should be taken in the future to help ensure successful implementation?
The results of the interviews are used as inputs to a lessons learned workshop which analyses and agrees key lessons learned from the current project and their implications for the time left for the project and for future projects.
The information gained helps an objective assessment to be made of the business’s experiences in executing and implementing the project, so that lessons can be used to enhance the results of projects.
However, it must clearly be emphasised that changes, particularly behavioural changes, are not a trivial task and therefore expectations must be managed carefully.
There are some points to consider when setting up a lessons learned procedure:
- The procedures should be documented, communicated and agreed by the participants.
- Communication channels should be established where even difficult findings would be elicited without compromising individual safety.
- The atmosphere in the interviews and meetings should be positive and blame-free.
- The interviews should be performed by an “external” facilitator or if available by a team member who is trusted by all team members.
- The facilitator should be prepared for the common concern that the results of this process would have no effect on future projects.
- Once the information is captured the focus should be set on those areas where the biggest improvement areas are identified.
- The costs and the return on investment should be balanced. A part of the return on investment includes the therapeutic potential benefit, as well as insight in root causes and their effects.
- The subjective input based on the opinions and perspectives of team members should be complemented wherever possible with objective data.