A lesson learned is the knowledge gained through the experience of doing something. It includes both positive and negative aspects. As a result, you want to repeat the positives but avoid repeating the negatives.
Learning through individual experience is no longer enough. We need to capture those experiences and share them with others in the organization.
Lessons Learned at the personal level
First I will talk about some of my personal learning experiences that I've captured over time. I'm sure there will be many more stories just like this one. So let's get started!
Here are some examples of things I've learned while making mistakes:
1) You can't control everything, so focus on the things you do control.
2) Don't be afraid to fail. It's okay to make mistakes.
3) There is nothing wrong with being different.
4) Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone learns from them.
5) No one is perfect, but perfection doesn't exist either.
Lessons learned at the project/organizational level
It's important not just at the beginning but throughout the entire lifecycle of any project to capture lessons learned. It would help if you encouraged this mindset from day one for any project.
A typical lessons learned program in the organization consists of five steps:
1. Identify lessons learned,
3. analyze and organize lessons,
4. store lessons so that these are made available when needed and
5. retrieve and implement them
Let's look at each of them in some detail.
1. Identify lessons learned
The first step is identifying the lessons learned. This means finding out what went right and what went wrong. The process for this usually involves interviewing stakeholders, reviewing old documentation, conducting retrospective reviews, etc.
Once you identify the lessons learned, they need to be documented. If you're lucky, you'll already have existing lessons learned system. Otherwise, you may need to create one.
Documentation is the second step in the lessons learned process. Here you take all the information you've collected and put it into a format that will help others understand it. In other words, you write down what happened.
You might also include any recommendations or suggestions. These could be anything from new processes, procedures, policies, etc.
3. Analyze and Organize
After documenting the lessons learned, you need to analyze them. This means looking at the lessons learned and trying to figure out why they occurred. For example, was it because of a lack of communication, poor planning, bad luck, etc.?
After analyzing the lessons learned, you need to decide which ones to keep and which ones to discard.
4. Store Lessons
Finally, once you've analyzed and organized the lessons learned, you store them away so that they are available whenever you need them.
This way, if someone asks you why something didn't work, you can point them to the lessons learned and show them precisely what you did and why it failed.
5. Retrieve and Implement
Retrieving and implementing lessons learned is the final step in the lessons learned cycle. Here you go back over your analysis and determine which lessons learned should be implemented.
For example, maybe you found that people were confused by a particular policy change. Or perhaps you identified a problem with a specific procedure.
To implement the lessons learned, you would need to find a solution to the problem. Then you'd need to communicate that solution to those affected.
Lessons learned are an essential part of any project. They provide valuable insight into how things went wrong and how they could have gone better.
As such, capturing lessons learned needs to be done on every project. And even though there are many different ways to do this, the key is ensuring that everyone involved understands the importance of learning from mistakes.