Lessons learned: When your team is not a team anymore

I have been a strong supporter of all things to do with lessons learned. I will continue to do so. Does the value of having good lessons learned outweigh any drawbacks that I have ever seen. The only story of caution around the use of lessons learned that I would share will be in the following article, and it is not about their use or the fact that we need lessons learned but about the fact that once you have lessons learned you really need to align them with your new projects honestly in order for them to work for you.

When starting a project, I go looking for lessons learned to support my planning process. Lessons learned should not be applied without a good review to see if there is a good fit with the current elements of the project we are undertaking. The fit can come from several areas, but at a minimum, one must consider some key elements of impact for the lessons to truly be of use.

The first consideration is similarities in terms of technical aspects. This is often the first alignment and only point that we look for when seeking lessons learned for our projects. Once the technical elements are covered, we can then look at similarities in our stakeholder group which happens to be the second largest area of alignment that needs consideration. One project done with one set of stakeholders will differ from another based on the makeup of that set. A good stakeholder analysis exercise will help us see the alignment or misalignment points and recognize from the lessons learned how to apply different approaches to gaining commitment.

There are quite a few other areas where we can look at alignment to lessons learned in order to assist us. You can look at procurement elements such as vendors, contract types and specific procurement needs. You can also look at risk and see where we have similar types or categories of risks.

One area that we sometimes forget to pay attention to is that of the makeup of our team. Here’s where my tale of caution comes in.

Several years ago, I was part of a project during the merger of the company I was working with at the time, involving the migration and consolidation of several notes servers and domains.

The project in Canada was key to the amalgamation of the two organizations in order to clear the way to become one. As part of office moves and consolidations, we also consolidated, renamed and rebranded a full notes network.

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