PM Lessons Learned Study

To the PM and KM world, I am currently close to completing (June 2012) my Masters Project Management (research). I have a strong interest in PM Lessons Learned. Over the last 12 months I have enjoyed learning about the KM World.

My final project/thesis will be ‘Exploring factors that impact knowledge management dissemination of project management lessons learned’.

The focus of this study will be to understand why the majority of projects do not disseminate lessons learned to organisations. Knowledge and project management literature suggests that the lessons learned process in practice rarely happens and does not work well and fails to deliver the intended results. The study will address the significant factors that impact the dissemination of project management lessons between the project team and the organisation. The literature review will focus on the areas of: knowledge; knowledge management; knowledge conversion; learning; organisational learning; lessons learned practices; and culture. So far, the literature review suggests there is limited research on how knowledge management, learning and culture impacts project management and project temporary organisations.

A review of the literature highlights project management literature gaps around people, learning, technology and process. The people factor is the most likely to negatively influence the dissemination of lessons learned in organisations. A conceptual lessons learned model has been derived and based on a swiss cheese model where the variables people, learning, technology and process need to align and be effective to disseminate lessons learned.

By undertaking this study it is expected that a better understanding of the significant project technology, learning, process and people factors will be established. This will assist in the dissemination of the Project Management lessons learned practice being improved. The findings will also contribute to the project management literature and provide an opportunity to improve project knowledge sharing ensuring projects achieve success.

I would be interested to know some of your thoughts on the Project Management world around ‘lessons learned’?


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

7 thoughts on “PM Lessons Learned Study

    • Hi Nick, thanks for the note. I have a couple of your books on LL and KM and I have made reference to them under the reference/library page of this blog. Lessons Learned from a Project Management perspective has been strong interest of mine over the last 17+years. I now have some time to focus my thoughts and energy on the problem of not learning from lessons in the PM domain.

      A recent ‘PM World Today’ posted an editorial on Lessons Learned but Knowledge Lost (Pells 2011). In response Wideman (2011, p.1) a recognised project management expert stated:
      ‘…in spite of all the technology that is available to us today, we have not yet found a presentation format that captures the essence of this wisdom in a way that is relevant to future usage, readily searchable and easy to store. …we have a serious cultural problem. …we are probably condemned to continue to throw away the valuable resources.’

      For me , this open discussion again highlights the significance of project management, knowledge management, the lessons learned process and the impact that technology, learning, process and people factors have on the problem. On On as they say … I look forward to meeting you one day.

      Regards, Stephen

  1. Hi Stephan,

    I am glad that I found your blog. I am interested in Lesson Learned as well. I am working for production company as a Project Administrator (partially Project Manager). This summer I became certified Project Manager with passed IPMA exam.
    And now I am writing master thesis about Lesson Learned in my company.
    I totaly agree with the comment that technology in which Lesson Learned is recorded, edited and used is one of the main factors. For example excel registration is boring, old-fashion and not invite people to use it. I thought that the mentality of employees is just an issue in Poland but your blog is showing that we are not alone.
    I totaly agree with your swiss cheese model.
    Is it any access to PM World Today article mentioned in your post online?

    • Hi Andrzej, I have recently discovered that the PM World site is no longer available on line. I do have an extract from the article. Would that help?
      Regs, Stephen

  2. Stephen,
    Will be great if you could send me that extract please.
    I bought Nick’s The Lessons Learned Handbook which is very usfull for me (there is no books about that in Polish unfortunately and the majority of the books about that in English are not good enought ). I would love to translate that book one day 🙂
    In my thesis – apart of the fileds which you are mentioning above- I am also going to the fifth element – learning organization matters – there is lots of about that cultural changes behavior which we can observe in our companies.
    The subject is quite important now, because we are changing from work’s society to society of the knowledge.
    As P. Drucker wrote, in the age of scientific and technological revolution, the knowledge (not work) is the main source of wealth.
    Best Regards,

  3. Andrzej, Hope this helps, Stephen

    On the August PMWT Editorial on Lessons Learned by Knowledge Lost
    August 13, 2011

    Hello David,

    I really enjoyed reading your PM WORLD TODAY – EDITORIAL – AUGUST 2011: Lessons Learned but Knowledge Lost! — How to Capture the Experiences, Knowledge and Wisdom of Aging and Retired Project Managers and Professional Leaders. You not only provided some very interesting project examples and a valuable set of Internet references but also raised a number of very thought-provoking questions.

    Why is it that we do not usually make a good job of capturing lessons learned and past experiences, to say nothing of project management wisdom generally from our elders? I suggest that we have two major challenges: First is that in spite of all the technology that is available to us today, we have not yet found a presentation format that captures the essence of this wisdom in a way that is relevant to future usage, readily searchable and easy to store. That is to say, we need an archive that is user-friendly and commonly accepted.

    Secondly, we have a serious cultural problem. With the advertising market continually shouting “new and improved”, who wants stuff that is “old hat”, “yesteryear” and “when were you born?” Each new generation naturally thinks it knows best, is reluctant to take advice and besides, prefers to make its own mistakes. Isn’t it more fun that way, to enjoy a “voyage of discovery”?

    Let’s face it, didn’t we too behave the same way when we started? And this in spite of the fact that the elements of project management were evident at the time of building the great pyramids of Egypt and, for all we know, in building Stone Henge also.

    And so, until these two things change, we are probably condemned to continue to throw away the valuable resources that you describe, just as today’s society happily discards its recreational toys and gadgets long before they are worn out. Indeed, if it were not so, that could mean that there were a lot fewer projects and our economy in even worse shape than it is now.

    Just a few thoughts in passing. Meantime, keep up the good work.

    R. Max Wideman
    Vancouver, BC, Canada

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.