Invest in Lessons Learned
A project is a reflection of an organisation’s culture. A mirror reflection. The only assets to be found in an organisation are its culture, knowledge and shared experiences. All other assets can be copied. For knowledge transfer to be successful, lessons learned workshops must be embedded into the culture of the organisation. I must stress at this point that causes of lessons learned must be established and not just the symptoms understood. Make lessons learned a ritual, a celebration for continuous improvement and knowledge share, in order to increase your return on investment.
Due to organisational culture, experience has shown that the majority of project experiences are unknown as we jump from one project to another. Success and failure criteria with their respective causes go unknown. Mostly we look for someone to blame instead of looking to continuously improve. Distant learning, technology and time constraints mean we no longer learn from each other. We no longer actively engage, discuss and dig deep for those root causes on how we could have done better or why we did so well.
Great leadership creates and promotes a work environment where people have access to established knowledge and are empowered to act accordingly. Leaders are role models through their behaviour. They create standards for the handling and transferring of knowledge that has a strategic impact. Leaders must promote knowledge sharing as a critical criterion for success and therefore must be committed to providing the time for their teams to reflect, to communicate and to document their knowledge. Knowledge share can convert problems into opportunities.
Lessons learned facilitated workshops are a step closer toward intelligent, introspective and collaborating individuals, who can act as “champions” within the organisation.
An independent facilitator is crucial in a lessons learned workshop due to the sensitive nature of team dynamics. Using an experienced facilitator is a good way to kick start the knowledge sharing process.
A facilitator assists a team using effective tools and techniques:
- to improve their work
- to practice critical reflection
- to transfer knowledge for holistic learning that is strategically relevant to the organisation
- to engage across the functional silos
- to elicit the best feedback that allows team building
- to develop individuals
- to promote a quality improvement culture