A good PM Lessons Learned article by Stephen Jenner (APM Oct 2011)

I recently read ‘Still failing for the same boringly repetitive reasons?‘ by Stephen Jenner in the APM voice of project management (October 2011).  Again it struck a cord with the research work I am doing on PM lessons learned.  I met Stephen during a tour in Australia in 2010., and he shared with me his thoughts on benefits and lessons learned. The Gateway reports have been a valuable source of reading research material. The following quotes from the APM article really say it all with the problem we have in not learning from our lessons.

‘…knowing-doing gap, ..in many areas of management that good practice is known, but is rarely applied’   ‘The solution isn’t acquiring more knowledge – its learning and applying what already exists…’

Stephen goes on to talk about a major cause is ‘the difficulty of identifying lessons to learn’.  My research to date would say that we do okay with identifying, however we don’t do well in disseminating / applying our lessons learned, so this is an interesting point he makes. Stephen does talk about ‘ineffective management practices’ in that 80% of UK government departments don’t use Gateway 5 (Benefits Evaluation) and that there is widespread failure in post-implementation reviews. These stats align closely with the Australian experiences to date. The final cause Stephen talks about is the ‘Individual psychology’, where he describes that we suffer from a number of cognitive biases (the strongest is over-confidence). My research to date very much covers the social and cultural cognitive behaviours, so it is good to confirm with Stephens notes.

In closing Stephen describes a ‘solution for ‘A strategy for learning
Action1. Accept that learning doesn’t happend by accident
Action 2. Expect learning and monitor it
Action 3. Seek disconfirming evidence
Action 4. Robust post-implementation review
Action 5. Don’t wait for the post implementation review’

Always great to read articles aligned with ones research topic.

Cheers, Stephen D



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