top of page

“Yesterday is not ours to recover but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose.” - Lyndon B. Johnson

Instead of scrutinising the past, we should regularly identify avenues for improvement and apply them quickly.

Those who study project management become quickly aware of the importance of lessons learned. Considerable emphasis is placed on the possibility for a company to learn from its mistakes so that it manages projects better in the future. Unfortunately, this exercise is often carried out at the end of a project, when it is likely that the team will have already been reassigned to new projects. Moreover, a project being by definition a unique experience, most of the good ideas cannot be applied as they are. All we’ll be left with is a nice project report, nothing more.

I prefer a more dynamic, tangible approach such as Scrum.

According to this approach, at least every four weeks we need to assess what should be improved in the team’s way of working. We project ourselves into the future with real ideas that can be quickly be tested. The past is used to identify areas for improvement, but we do not linger there longer than necessary.

This is a simple approach:

  1. First identity the facts – What can we improve today or tomorrow to achieve our goals? Don’t lose too much time repeating who did what and why. What matters are the avenues for improvement.

  2. Identify actions to improve and choose one to apply immediately

  3. Carry out this action

  4. Assess the outcome

  5. Start over under Step 1

This is like the PDCA process (Plan Do Control Act) used in many management methods and in quality assurance.

Here is a real-life example:

  1. The facts: Koud cannot finish his tasks on time because another project is taking more time than expected.