Conducting Effective Lessons Learnt – The Discussion Phase

In the second part of the the article we look at the Discussion Phase of the Lessons Learnt process.

The Discussion Phase

This is the pivotal phase of the Lessons Learnt process when the team comes together to discuss the various topics identified in the Preparatory Phase. The key to the success of the phase often lies in the maturity of the members participating in this process. Focus on issues and improvements rather than personalities are essential in making this a progressive activity rather than a regressive activity.

Drivers in this Phase: Moderator (preferably not the PM, maybe a TL or a senior member of the team.), Meeting Minuter (Moderator can play this role, but it is recommended that it should be a separate person)

Participants in this phase: All Team members

Activities in this phase: Meetings to discuss on all the topics identified in the Preparatory Phase, Identification of Action Items, Identification of Best Practices to be carried forward, Action plan for implementation of Action Items.

Key Points to remember:

  • The Lessons Learnt discussion need not be completed in a single meeting; there can be multiple sessions for fixed time period to enable a thorough and fruitful discussion.
  • The role of the moderator is very critical as the moderator needs to bring in all the team members into the play and ensure that topics are discussed hard and long enough for having a proper closure.
  • To avoid putting people in the defensive, it has to be ensured that the topics should be discussed in terms of how the situation can be improved rather than who is to blame for the issue.
  • The discussion should not only be restricted to the topics directly related to the activities of the team, but should focus on all the topics affecting the project. Subsequently, these topics can be categorized as those which can be avoided / improved, and those that cannot be avoided. The biggest benefit of following this approach is that for the issues that finally are categorized as cannot be avoided, feedback can be given to relevant stakeholders / support teams as inputs for their improvement purposes.
  • It is important for the team to come up with probable improvement steps rather than it being prescriptive solution by the PM or any other senior member. Again the moderator has to be person who should ensure that this does not happen.
  • If further analysis is required on some topic, then do that and come back for another meeting to discuss it.
  • Apart from discussing the improvements, the team should also identify metrics or mechanisms by which these improvements can be validated.

In the last part of this article we will take a look at the follow up phase.

– C.V. Ram Narayanan Sastry

(Project Manager)


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