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Lessons Learned

In many projects, the satisfaction of a positive project conclusion is so great that many partners forget about a “Lessons Learned” discussion. This is bad because the project partners miss the opportunity to improve and strengthen – mainly in project management. This analysis of the performance in the project, identifying mistakes made, and ways to avoid these mistakes in the future are crucial for project teams. Theoretically, making a mistake is not a problem, but learning from it and how to avoid it in the future is essential.

Lessons learned

Find out: What went wrong in the project? Why did this happen? How did you solve the problem and tackle it? What can be taken from this experience for the future?

What are Lessons Learned?

Lessons learned are insights, new knowledge or experiences gained during the work on a project, and their documentation. The innovative character of projects requires that the project participants constantly gain new insights during a project.

“I feel that the most important requirement in success is learning to overcome failure. You must learn to tolerate it, but never accept it.”

Reggie Jackson

Do we learn during a project?

Project work integrates the cognitive, social, affective, and motoric performances of the participants. Project work enables learning through reflection: reflecting, trying things out, analysing and correcting mistakes, activating and using prior knowledge from the basis and occasion forever new learning experiences.

What is particularly exciting about projects is the fact that, due to their innovative character, a project does not offer any predefined solutions.
You only realize whether you have done things right during the project’s lifetime, or even at the end. In any case, you have to regularly evaluate the course of the project and the results. This allows you to recognize and correct mistakes. The summary of all these corrections is summarised in the “Lessons Learned Meeting”.

The Lessons Learned meeting

Lessons learned meetings aim to identify the newly gained knowledge, experience, and skills during the project. You should organise it as a collaborative feedback session in which you document what your team took away from the successes and missteps of a project. These meetings are a way to collect comments and observations and should include everyone on the team.

Lessons learned Meeting

Lessons Learned Meetings can be either formal or non-formal meetings. It is often easier to discuss problems during the project in a relaxed atmosphere.

In our Lessons Learned meetings, we focus on four major items:

  • What we learned in context with the project management
  • What we learned in context with the partners
  • What we learned in context with the content creation
  • What we learned in general during the project’s lifetime

We will present posts for these four issues. In these posts, we take feedback from project partners given in the frame of final project meetings. We analyse the given texts, interpret them and give you some hints and ideas about a good approach to the project from the beginning.

About the author
Peter Mazohl is the President of the “European Initiative for Education” and involved in European Projects since 1999. He is teaching “Project Management” for future project managers and for people involved in European Projects (for example in Erasmus+).

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