Lessons learned, about your own mistakes

One of the critical aspects of any project are the lessons learned.  These findings help projects managers and team members grow individually, they help organizations optimize their project delivery processes, and provide future projects a baselines/history for PMs to leverage for their approach on a similar project or Version 2.0.

Unfortunately, these sessions are often overlooked and when they do occur, they turn into a blame game.  Marketing blames Sales for the forecasts, Delivery blames Marketing for shifting requirements and so on.  Well, last week something amazing happened…the stars aligned and everyone agreed!  The big problems as we approach launch were all MY fault.  Even a week later, it still burns me to have to say that.   I thought to myself “Who can I blame?  Our organization isn’t very strong on lessons learned, couldn’t I brush this under the rug and move on?”  In reality, I could have chosen either of those options and easily pulled it off.  As I thought about it more, two key things came to mind…

  1. Integrity – I wouldn’t be comfortable burying this.  I know B-Schools try to teach it and the PMI tests for it, but Ethics is not something you learn.  Browse the list of corporate scandals and you will see a list of executives with tremendous educations…none of which were able to help them make the right choice.  You need to make the right choices.  In the long run, you will gain the confidence of your colleagues.  Side note – In addition to my personal experience, I have spoken with about a dozen folks about their PMP exam….study the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct more than EVM formulas.
  2. Continuous Improvement – When I put my pride aside and realized that the team could benefit from my mistakes, it was a no brainer.  My mistake had caused additional hours of work for another team and that is not good for morale, support, or credibility (for you or your team).  I am not perfect (shhh, don’t tell anyone) and this will not be my last mistake\, so I better pull some value out of this moment.  All of the PMs in our group own this deliverable for all the new products & services we launch, so I needed to make sure that no one else was making the same mistakes I had made.  I setup a meeting with the project team to fully understand the issues, listened to what they had to say, and asked for their suggestions on future improvements.  After that, I setup a meeting with my fellow department PMs to share my mistakes and talk through the improvements.

In the end, the team receiving the input from me was very satisfied in my response and corrective actions (trust & support) and as it turns out some folks were making the same mistakes as me.

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One thought on “Lessons learned, about your own mistakes

  1. Continuous Improvement = Kaizen ; I’ve printed several logos to remind to my team that continuous improvement is as important as LLs.

    Greetings from Brussels

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