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    Lessons Learned

    July 7, 2013 - Author: Larry L. Johnson, PMP

    Do you utilize lessons learned where you work? I know most of the place I’ve worked had a line item in the project management methodology to capture lessons learned but it was rarely enforced. Either I was already knee deep in my next project, or there wasn’t enough perceived benefit of lessons to bother. Even if lessons learned were actually captured, project managers rarely went back to review them before moving on to their next project. I’m guilty of this as well.
    This is a huge opportunity for us to improve how we manage projects. Effectively capturing lessons from projects and being able to access that information to inform your management of other projects is essential to getting better at what we do as an organization.

    What about you? In today’s work environment many of us don’t stay very long with one company. Projects are temporary endeavors so if we do our jobs well, we could potentially work ourselves out of a job. This isn’t necessarily so, but definitely possible. Even if you aren’t working as a contractor, as I have for essentially the last 6 years, unless your company is a projectized organization you may find yourself being let go when times are tough or money for new projects runs out. What happens to all those valuable lessons you learned and so diligently captured for your organization? Certainly, you’ll retain some of it but how about the rest?

    To solve this problem I started capturing lessons learned on my own. A simple spreadsheet or chart in a word document would suffice. You could store it on a flash drive or better yet store it out on any number of services that allow you to store files on the internet. Dropbox and Google Drive are just two that come to mind. I use Evernote. I’ve been using Evernote for a long time for my note taking and so it was a natural extension. All my notes are available on my phone, tablet, personal PC, work PC. Evernote makes them easily searchable.
    Of course I would never capture anything that would be considered sensitive.

    Here is an example.

    DateProjectCompanyIssueKnowledge AreaLesson
    04/17/12XYZAcmeKeeping salesperson happyStakeholder ManagementThe person who sold your project is a stakeholder. Make sure you take their needs into consideration.

    Although the project and company name are not real, the lesson is. I learned this lesson the hard way. The person who sold my project wasn’t happy with me and the result for me wasn’t good.

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    Have you planned your career?

    June 4, 2013 - Author: Larry L. Johnson, PMP

    A couple of weeks ago I was at a meeting. The speaker was a VP at a recruiting firm and he was speaking about how to make your career more resilient. He had a lot of good stuff but one thing really stuck in my mind.

    He asked if we managed our careers like we manage projects.

    Think about it. Your career is a project. It has a defined start and end and produces a unique product. The start date is probably just after you graduate college. The end date is when you turn 65. Maybe you have a goal to retire by 55. Maybe you don’t plan on retiring and your end date isn’t as well defined. Your career is going to be different than any other person’s career.

    I have goals in my career but not really a plan. I definitely don’t have a plan as rigorous as I’d demand at work. I have some vague requirements but nothing specific. No defined milestones with dates. No work breakdown structure, no schedule. No risk management plan. If I planned my projects the way I’ve planned my career I wouldn’t be a PM for very long.

    Really it’s not a new concept. There are tons of platitudes about planning. I’ve even used some of them. I know I’ve said, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Most of the career self-help literature discusses planning.

    Where would my career be if I had been as diligent about planning it as I do my projects? Good thing it’s not too late to fix it.

    No Comments - Categories: Career