Categorized | Management

The Lessons Learned Log: Sharing Information and Knowledge Efficiently

It’s a truth: every project comes with its own lessons learned. Often, this is a result of issues and problems that occurred, the steps undertaken to face those issues and solve those problems, leading to the deeper understanding of roles and how they are performed in the undertaking of a project.

Properly documented and shared, these lessons can lead to the development of best practices, inspire new management strategies, hasten the decision making processes in the future, increase efficiency, improve organizational performance and lead to a greater understanding of the organization’s core values, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth.

A System For Capturing Knowledge

For this to happen, it is necessary for an organization to come up with a system in which lessons learned are documented and made accessible (stored in shareable format) to other units in the organization for use in research, planning or as references for solving similar issues as they are encountered.

Implemented efficiently, this process should result in a standardized Lessons Learned Log– a document which, when created and shared systematically, can lead to an increase in the banked organizational knowledge, which, as is commonly said, means power.

What Is The Lessons Learned Log?

The Lessons Learned Log documents project learnings and discoveries in the various phases of a given project, including issues, problems, solutions (both working and non working) as well as salient observations on processes, resources and personnel.
There are several components to a Lessons Learned log. Of course, the primary mandatory is the identification of the project: project name, objectives and personnel involved in the task.

For the documenting of the lessons themselves, the crucial components and their simplified definitions are:

1. The Issue: more commonly known as the problem, this is the symptom or observation of a performance change or consequence of a decision or action
2. The Cause: the situation, decision or portion of process that has resulted in the problem occurring
3. The Lesson Learned: The insight or learning that can be gleaned form the situation– new knowledge that was not present before the problem occurred and was addressed
4. The Action: What was done to address the issue
5. The Process Change: What changes are necessary on a project and organizational level to ensure that the lesson learned can be implemented in other projects and situations

Making The Most of The Lessons Learned Log

The key to getting the most value out of the Lessons Learned Log is in its name– unlike performance and personnel reviews (which, by nature, occur at the end of a project, a Lessons Learned Log is an ongoing documentation of events as they occur.

This means, ideally, that for the Lessons Learned Log to be accurate, substantial and useful to the entire organization, noting the lessons must be an ongoing standard procedure observed throughout the duration of the projects and as closely as possible to the learning opportunity.

Continuous and timely logging of lessons learned are not only more accurate– they also enable the team to identify project management processes that need streamlining and improvement, enabling the team to immediately implement those improvements within the same project as soon as possible.

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