The importance of the lessons learnt

During this month (july 2012) I am going to finish a software development project that I have been leading as a project manager since its beginning in february. It has been hard, physically and mentally, and with very challenging deadlines.

Also in these weeks I am reading an interesting book from Peter Taylor, “The lazy project manager”. I have taken notes of two important ideas from the book that I can apply in this final phase of my project:

The shape of the projects.

Projects are thick in the beginning, thinner in the middle and thick again in the end.

It means that we must dedicate a lot of time and effort to bring the project inside the road at its initial phase (planning) in order to be able to “rest” a little bit during its execution and  monitoring phases. Finally we have to notice the importance of the closing phase and dedicate the necessary time and effort to finish our projects properly.

This final effort must be shared with the rest of the team, the sponsor, the client and also the other stakeholders. A part from obtaining acceptance of all the deliverables and closing contracts a very important activity in this phase is to register the lessons learnt during the project.

This is something that many times is forgotten or understimated.

What we know we know, what we know we don’t know  and what we don’t know we don’t know.

At the end of the book Peter Taylor quotes Mr. Donald Rumsfeld (12 February, 2002, US Dept. of Defense news briefing): ‘As we know, there are known knows. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns. The ones we don’t know we don’t know‘.

I have enjoyed specially this part of the book.

When we work on the registry of the lessons learnt during the chapter we must consider:

  1. What we didn’t know at the beginning of the project and we have learnt during its development. That is to know what we know.
  2. To know what we don’t know. The gaps in our experience of the project that we can fill up by asking our team.
  3. The unknown unknowns. This must be unveiled through a project retrospective where all the stakeholders should participate. It is a healthy habbit to plan for this in the final phase of the project.
Would he repeat it ?
Horse stumbles after the jump, would he repeat it ?

And why do we have to dedicate so many time and effort to all these lessons learnt if our project is almost closed and the deliverables have already been accepted?

In order to avoid that the sentece that says that ‘the man is the only animal capable to trip twice over the same stone‘ continues being true in the future. At least I think we should try it. Don’t you?

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The importance of the lessons learnt

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