Hot! Lessons Learned Sessions – Making them Effective

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A lessons learned process, implemented correctly, can deliver huge benefits to organizations, saving time and money.  To be effective, the LLlessons learned process needs to be fully integrated into the daily working practices of projects and businesses, rather than simply bolted onto the front or the end of a project, as is often the case. 

One key part of any lessons learned process is the lessons learned session, which is a scheduled meeting that acts as a forum for those involved in a project to discuss, capture and document what parts of the project they thought worked well, what areas did not work well and to look at what could have been changed in the execution of the project to make the overall outcome better. The information captured in the Lessons Learned session should then be summarized into a clear and concise format that is then made available to project managers to refer to when setting out on and executing new projects.


Remember, any future lessons to be learned are only as effective as the quality of the information captured in the Lessons Learned session. ll2

Below are some key considerations when planning and running a Lessons Learned session:


  • The  person facilitating should not have been involved in the project so they can act in an independent way and will have no influence over the lessons
  • Organize the sessions so they take place in a workshop format away from the usual work place, to avoid unnecessary interruptions and distractions
  • Organize the session to happen as soon after project completion, as possible. This will ensure that important details are still fresh in the team’s mind.  Make sure, where appropriate, each functional part of the project is represented, for example, design, testing, etc
  • Include as many people who were involved in the project as is possible
  • Encourage the participants to openly share their thoughts and ideas
  • Capture all statements in a single document and make this available later for all participants to review and comment on
  • Once agreed, summarize the captured statements in a lessons-learned document that is available to all to see and use
  • The lessons learned session should not try to cover any other activity


In today’s online project management applications, such as, 5PM, WORKetc, TeamLab, to name a few, lessons can be captured in wiki-style format or centralized documents and shared amongst all users, in a single, accessible place.



Harry Casimir

Harry is co-founder of Atilus and President and CEO of Dixivox, an international VAS (Value Added Service) telecommunication company. Harry is a programmer by trade and enjoys watching NBA basketball games and spending time with his family. In his spare time… who are we kidding here… with two young kids at home, he has none!


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