Lessons Learned Management Techniques [Podcast]

Cornelius Fichtner interviewed me recently for an episode on the Project Management Podcast(tm). It covered lessons learned management techniques in project-management.
It was great to catch up with Cornelius again. We shared many tips and lessons learned.
Click here to listen now to this interview
Here’s a summary from what we discussed.
What are the Lessons Learned
Lessons learned are bits of organizational knowledge we learn as we work through our projects. They are usually divided into things that went well, which is all the things we feel proud of, and then those that didn’t go so smoothly where the team discovered there were problems.
It is important to distinguish between lessons learned and lessons captured, as often we record things on projects and don’t actually learn or do anything with them.
They are useless if you don’t use them. They should be used to support continuous improvement plans.
While some of the larger improvements may seem daunting and time-consuming, there are usually a few small things you can do to improve the project.
We as project leaders need to ensure that any organizational knowledge we acquire is processed and used in a way that makes it ‘learned’.
What are the Project Lessons Learned Management Techniques
Management techniques are simple, effective ways to work.
Lessons learned management techniques can be used to capture, analyze, and then apply the lessons learned for continuous improvement.
The three main types of management techniques we can use are:
Things that are related to people, e.g. Training, staffing
Techniques that are related to processes, e.g. Lessons learned templates or the agenda you use to plan your lessons learned sessions
Tools and technology, e.g. How to store and retrieve the lessons you have learned after you’ve captured them.

We also discussed:
There is a difference in how project lessons are managed and approached in Agile environments versus traditional waterfall-based projects.
After-action reviews and choosing the right vocabulary for your lessons learned meetings
You can decide whether your meetings should be informal or formal, and whether you should include a facilitator. (Spoiler alert: Yes).
How to prepare for a meeting based on lessons learned
How to document the outcomes from a lesson learned meeting

I also discuss a lesson learned meeting that I facilitated and how it went. I also discuss the importance of facilitation skills for this type of session.
Here’s a link for the NASA Public Lessons Learned System, which I refer to in the podcast. It’s a great source of inspiration to learn how lessons can be used well.
NASA Public Lessons Learned System
This article was first published on this website in 2017.
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