“Useful lessons learned are easily lost. For many project managers, the lessons they learn come from their own experiences rather than a database of past projects.”
The Project Management community periodically discusses challenge areas in project management. Invariably, two challenges crop] up: poor risk management and subpar project governance. Why are we not realising benefits and values from the two things we as project managers are delivering? Many project management offices (PMOs) would answer that question by talking about how we learn from projects or how we fail to pass on the knowledge we gain.
The traditional approach is to wait until the end of the project, and then conduct a detailed post mortem that digs into what went badly and what could have been done better. As project management and governance have become more agile, we have shifted to conducting retrospectives along the way. What has not changed, however, is that when a certain issue or challenge has been identified and we have learned a lesson from it, there is no easy way to spread that knowledge across the organisation to prevent that problem happening again.
The traditional lessons-learned process has people sitting in a room talking about the issues and how they could make changes. Then, the project is done, and it’s back to business as usual. The project team disperses to join new projects. As a project manager, you have finished with that project, you have done a post mortem, and you have come up with some good ideas, but to whom do you give that knowledge? Individual projects tend to be siloed. The PMO is supposed to straddle all projects, but many businesses do not have a PMO.