Lessons learned are an important part of any person/team’s evolution, it’s how you assess what happened , and identify clear ways to become better.
This meeting is often underestimated, even skipped, which prevents people from learning more than they should.
Here are some tips for a better “Lessons learned” meeting:
1. Take notes throughout the meeting
While you manage your project, you will probably wished some events went differently. It could be how you made your schedule, how the team developed a particular module that went wrong, or anything else.
It’s important to note them as they happen so you do not forget them, and note any ideas you might have right away to make it better next time. Don’t worry if some elements do not have solutions associated with them, what’s important is to be able to go through those items with the team while you are doing your meeting so they can contribute.
2. Plan the meeting not later than 10 days after the project
The idea behind this tip is not to wait too much so the team can remember what happened enough to contribute.
What’s important about having a specific objective (10 days), is that it will prevent you from postponing the meeting or simply not doing it because “you don’t have time”.
3. Make it clear
I may sound like a broken record with the “clear” thing, but, that’s how you can make your projects better!
Here, what’s important is to find clear actionable tasks that must be done (or not done) to improve.
Let’s take a scenario where many users complained about errors on a website and you want to list how we can avoid this next time:
Bad way: Test more before deployment
Good way: Plan 2 testing rounds, one to find errors so you can fix them, a second time to make sure everything was fixed probably
See the difference? One can be planned, done, and then improved again. The other one is too vague, which will either be done incorrectly, or not done at all in the end.
4. Include everyone who participated
Use your judgement with this one, if you have a 40 people team, you want to avoid overcrowding your meeting.
You want to make sure you gather as much feedback from every role as possible, and avoid including just managers. So if you have a large team, you may want to plan more than one meeting or include key people who could gather some information from their colleagues before the meeting.
5. Associate solutions for everything
Sometimes, the team may not have solutions for every element right away, but you want to avoid the problem from recurring so you must find solutions for everything. If it’s impossible during the meeting, assign someone the task of doing a little research, and never leave anything without solutions.