Teamwork means splitting projects in into skills-based parts. One of the main reasons why human beings ever since tried to work in teams is to achieve better results faster. As we can see in every organization, the ability to work in teams is required to be hired in a company. Teams consist of individuals with a specific range of skills and knowledge to complement one another. One crucial success factor is about learning: learning from each other on the one hand and learning from previous decisions, processes, and results and others on the other hand.
In this blog, I would like to share with you five tips on how to handle your lessons learned within your team / with other teams in the organization in which you are involved.
1. Start your projects by focusing on lessons learned from past projects
Sometimes when we start a project, we are so enthusiastic about our ideas, or we are in a hurry, that we forget to prepare ourselves properly for the new project. The time it takes to reflect on insights from previous projects is worth it.
2. Define categories
Dealing with the lessons learned is ideally an integral part of teamwork. Consider which factors you want to pay particular attention to carefully. Cost, quality, time management, efficiency, productivity, communication are just a few key points.
If you define your particular categories, you will always have an overview regarding your most crucial strengths and weaknesses. The strengths will motivate the team and show that you are on the right track. The weaknesses drive the team to transform them into strengths and not to repeat mistakes. When things get on and off, certain aspects don’t fall by the wayside.
3. Document all your lessons learned immediately
Often the lessons learned are only recorded and discussed at the end of a project, which is way too late. Mostly one could have levered out many problems beforehand if one had learned from the experiences earlier in the same project.
These open and straightforward questions help you at every step to identify lessons learned:
- Which of my lessons learned can be useful for my team members or other teams in my organization?
- What went well?
- What do we have to do to at least maintain this good level?
- What went badly?
- How can we improve the procedure for the next time?
Not only after every milestone but continuously, these questions need to be a standard procedure for every team member.
4. Share and discuss your lessons learned
Communication is the name of the game. Grasp every opportunity and share your lessons learned with your teammates. Don’t wait until the next meeting to discuss important information with your colleagues.
Of course, you should document relevant information about lessons learned to make it accessible to everyone in your team or other teams dealing with similar topics. In my blog post from January 30th, 2019 (Part 1), I introduced you to the possibility of the MicroArticle.
In your team, you have different possibilities to document your insights. Here I mention only two as inspiration:
- Logbooks, which your team fills in continuously both positive and negative lessons learned
- Wikis, which you can implement for specific topics. You can make them available to other teams, for example, via web application or intranet.
5. Don’t get personal in lessons learned
When it comes to the lessons learned, we need to set sympathies and antipathies towards our teammates aside. In a team, mistakes should be allowed. In the same way, success is not to be ascribed to a single person alone. In other words, it’s not about who said what and who made which mistakes. Likewise, it’s not about who has achieved which success. The point is that certain decisions have been made in certain circumstances. The point is that a task was executed in a certain way. The point is that the reaction to one situation was precisely that, not different. We focus on facts including positive results as well as results that require improvement, not on persons directly involved in the action.