You are now finished with last week. Are you still working on your status report Good. Good.
Depending on which template you use to track your project status, you might be answering questions such as:
What went according to plan? What didn’t go according to plan? Why or why?
This last question is the most important. What was the reason for everything going as planned? This is how you should move forward. What is the real reason for things not going as planned? What are the real reasons for the problems? Did a task get canceled because your subject matter expert was sick?
It’s great, but you should never allow your subject matter expert to become sick again. This is not acceptable. This is a risk if your SME is the only one capable of completing a particular activity. If you don’t have the ability to cross-train, or have more than one resource with this expertise then work won’t go as planned.
This is the perfect time to record lessons learned. I remember working with a project auditor once who required a section on lessons learned in all project status templates. She said that if we don’t capture the lessons learned as we go, then we will forget them. She was right.
It is a great time to reflect at the end of each day, week, and month. We have been discussing the status of your project. This is the time to look at yourself and your project objectively. What are your professional and personal lessons? What are the most important lessons you want to learn?
“Happy is someone who can remember the past, what to appreciate in the present, as well as what to do in the future.” “- Arnold H. Glasow
I was a manager in a very Theory X company many years ago. He didn’t believe that we could behave professionally. He would regularly go through our files and folders to make sure that nothing was hidden from him.
He believed in the post-error walkthrough. It didn’t matter how small the error was, you had to fix it. Then you needed to sit down in his office and walk through each step. He would always ask you several times what your error was. I felt like he had taken a newspaper and smacked my nose, saying “Bad Software Developer, Bad Software Developer!”
Lessons learned do not only include what to do next and how to improve. Learning lessons is not just about learning what to do next, but also about letting go. Every mistake can be corrected and made into a learning opportunity. Some things need to be let go. What about that one mistake your tired and overworked team member made? Let it go. You can also learn from it and stop over-allocating your resources.
Take the valuable lessons learned and move on.