Sujit sopan barhate


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Sujit sopan barhate

  1. 1. Increase Productivity and Reduce Risks by Learning Lessons from Failure and Success Author : Sujit Sopan Barhate, PMP ABSTRACT To sustain in competitive world, Organizations strive to increase productivity year on year. Systematic learning from mistakes, failures and successes is one of the ways to reduce risk realization leading to increase in productivity. The wisdom of learning from failures is unquestionable. Still, many a times there is no Organizational emphasis, no formal process defined which could help in learning, sharing and deploying lessons in the Organization. A definite process should drive it by involving all stakeholders and experts. The process should contribute to learn right lessons and should be able to share them across the Organization. The lessons should help not to make same/similar mistakes again (upfront risk mitigation) and to repeat success frequently. This paper provides effective way of lessons learned process implementation. The paper provides a model for implementing the process in the Organization. It throws light on barriers/difficulties in implementation and ways to overcome them effectively. Also, it discusses how risks can be reduced/mitigated using proven actions from past which helps in increasing productivity of the Organization. KEYWORDS : Lessons Learned, Risk Management INTRODUCTION Organizations are thriving to be better day by day. Continuous improvement programs are increasing with lot of management attention. In order to improve from current situation, Organizations must learn from failures as well as successes of their own. Furthermore, they shall refer learning from other Organizations. To enable Organizations learn from themselves or others, the Organization has to be developed as a learning Organization. David Garvin (1993) has defined learning Organizations as skilled at five main activities: systematic problem solving, experimenting with new approaches, learning from past experiences and learning from best practices from others and transferring knowledge throughout the organization.
  2. 2. Many Organizations attempt to be a learning organization but do not have formal process or special Organizational emphasis and motivation to document them. Many a times, they have processes written down and required tools in place but they fail in implementation. Everybody understands importance of the process but fail in implementation. Francesca Gino & Gary P. Pisano (2011), Mark D. Cannon and Amy C. Admondson (2005), Mark Marlin (2008) have listed barriers and possible causes in implementation. Documenting lessons learned is imperative in Project Management. Lessons can be learned throughout the project life cycle (PMBOK, 4 th Edition). They shall be documented with appropriate analysis and shall be archived in a database as part of project closure activity. The Lessons Learned database could be one of the important Organizational Process Asset which will directly contribute in enhancing Organization’s maturity in executing the projects. Successful process and its implementation will help in risk management. The learning surely helps in avoiding risks as the learning from previous failure must have taught a lesson. Also, risks will be reduced or easily mitigated by Organization’s self-learning from past or learning from other organizations. James F. Clawson and David Oberhettinger (2001) have cited risk avoidance by Lessons Learned process. Petr HANACEK, Petr PERINGER and Zdena RABOVA (2000) have explained risk analysis based on knowledge earned through past failures. Risk management based on lessons learned leads effective and efficient organization as risk identification and mitigation is known from past so, it is easy to avoid the risk during planning itself. Learning from failure is captured by many authors very well. However, very few articles throw light on utilizing the learning for betterment of the organization. The purpose of this paper is to relate learning lessons from failures and successes to effective risk management which will help organization in getting better day by day. The paper proposes a model for Lessons Learned, ways to overcome barriers to ensure better implementation of the process and link it to risk management which will lead to effectiveness improvement of the organization. LESSONS LEARNED PROCESS When we fail to learn from our mistakes or others, we tend to repeat the mistake (Jugdev, 2012). Hence, learning from ours as well as others mistake is the first step for improvement. The building blocks of the process (refer figure 1) are: Failure Analysis, Review & Evaluation, Deployment & Confirmation, Learning from Success, Documenting the Lesson, Sharing and Institutionalization.
  3. 3. Failure Analysis Expert Review and analysis Failure / Defect Root Cause Analysis Experiment the solution(s) Observe and Analyze Results Confirmation Draft Lessons Learned Review the drafted Lesson Share Lessons Learned Institutionalization Success Analyze critical success factors Figure 1 : Lessons Learned Process Blocks Failure Analysis Systematic analysis of the failure is a key to learn right lesson. This is the first activity towards quality movement. Failures shall be analyzed by using scientific methods rather that guess work and opinions of experts. Always get data related to the failure, analyze it using statistical tools like, histograms, Pareto charts, limit charts etc. Believe in the results coming out of data instead of assumptions. Based on data analysis, perform root cause analysis (using tools like 5 why, Fish Bone Diagram etc.) to understand real reason of failure. Working on the identified reason will provide long term or final solution. Otherwise, you may identify temporary solutions or one time corrective actions. Figure 2 shows detail process flow and iteration/decision loops in process of learning from failures.
  4. 4. Identify defect/Problem Area Start Refer the lesson and implement the given solution Are analysis and solution correct? No Done Is problem listed in Lesson Learned database Yes Yes No Implement solution Are results satisfactory ? Is it the correct implementation? Is it the most feasible and practical solution? Is the analyzed root cause correct? Confirm the solution as appropriate solution for the defect or problem identified YesYesYes Close the review comments if any Enter the Lesson in Lessons Learned database Share the Learned Lessons to applicable projects No No Perform Root Cause Analysis Derive Corrective and/or Solutions Review the analysis and identified solutions Select most feasible solution for implementation Observe and analyze the results Yes No No Draft the learned lesson Review the draft and validate entries in all fields Figure 2 : Learning from Failures Review & Evaluation The failure analysis might come up with one or more solutions. These solutions should be reviewed before implementation. A thought has to be given on whether the solution can be a preventive in nature for such issues. Peers along with Subject Matter Experts (SME) shall participate in the review.
  5. 5. Objective of the review should be : - Have all the causes been considered in causal analysis - Is root cause identified - Are alternatives explored - Feasibility of the solution(s) - If solutions are many and they might applicable to specific situation/scenarios Refer figure 2 for review and correction loops. Deployment & Confirmation Solution(s) shall be carefully evaluated before we conclude the resolution for a problem or failure. The solution must be first tested by deploying it in controlled environment. Evaluate the identified solution in different practical situations. Results shall be recorded and analyzed. The results shall prove that the failure will not occur after deploying the solution. Result analysis shall conclude that the solution has achieved its purpose. The solution can be confirmed as a final solution after performing this analysis. This is the stage where, we can say that we have learned a lesson. Until, we confirm the solution, the analysis and learning is incomplete. Learning from Success Success is celebrated and enjoyed. However, we shall go beyond celebration and analyze reasons for the success. Distinguished factors leading to success shall be reviewed, discussed and drafted as part of lesson. Learning from other organizations is important because, organization can improve its effectiveness by copying or imitating their competences which lead them to a success. For example, Japanese car manufacturers went to United States after World War II to learn US manufacturing methods and improved upon it in Japan. Japanese car manufacturers pioneered new methods and advanced in manufacturing later. Then, the learning process was reversed in 1980s when struggling US car makers went to Japan to learn about improvements that Japanese carmakers had pioneered and took this learning back to Us and improved upon it. Documenting the Lesson Learning is an ongoing process. The learning has to be appreciated by documenting it in a database. The database shall be used effectively and efficiently. The lessons shall be categorized to facilitate efficient use of lessons. Different categories and applicability filters of the database will be able to provide needed crisp information to the user. The categories could be technical, process, project management, customer management, financial etc. Lessons shall be documented unambiguously and shall be understood by others. Well documented lessons will be useful for the organization. Every lesson must document following details : Lesson Learned Statement Failure/Success Description – describe the defect/issue/problem identified or success
  6. 6. Analysis –data analysis, root cause analysis, feasibility study, results of the solution in its pilot run and supporting data of its confirmation. Solution – detailed description of the solution which was deployed for the issue and confirmed by SME(s). Category – whether the lesson is related to technology, process, procedure, method, project management, customer satisfaction. Effective means of recording learning and presenting data shall be used. Audio-visual recording could help in better explanation of the problem, analysis and the solution. Accurate lesson and other details in the database will add value for the organization. So, lessons learned draft shall be reviewed carefully by experts as the learning will be spread across the organization. Appropriate description of failure, analysis, methods used to seek solutions, verification of solution feasibility and lessons learned statement. Sharing Knowledge gained after complete analysis of the problem must be spread quickly and effectively. The learning will have desired impact when they will be shared broadly and referred when other group of people face similar situation or before starting any initiative or project. An Organization should have a centralize repository/database for the lessons. Online tool to document and share the lessons is useful. New learning shall be posted on bulletin boards, sharing in team meetings, e-mail notifications. Such mechanisms will help spreading information quickly and can attract attention of people facing similar issues in their work areas. Institutionalization Best practices shall be identified from the lessons learned. Best practice is a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. Such best practices shall be included in main stream processes of the organization. This action will ensure effective use of the lessons learned process and effectiveness of the organization will increase. USE OF ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING Learning from Failures Best Practices from other Organizations Learning from Successes Problem solving or Starting new initiave/project
  7. 7. Figure 3: Referring Learning before stating activity/project or for solving a problem We have discussed in detail about learning from own failures and success in the above sections. This section focuses on using the learning. Use of Lessons Learned database and learning from past successes will ensure not repeating same failure again and repeat success again. Before starting any initiative or project or while solving problem, as shown in figure 3, Organization shall refer : - Lessons Learned from failures - Lessons Learned from success - Best practices followed in other Organizations These references will prepare organization well to start the initiative or project. This step will provide benefit for the organization from its internal learning as well as from industry. It will help in aligning processes, methods, technologies which are best in class. It will either reduce risks or mitigate them upfront. For example, Hella India Automotive (HIA) implemented the process systematically during planning and executing it’s one of the prestigious project from an Indian OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). The project is to develop a complex electronics product for passenger cars. HIA approached as follows: HIA adopted following changes in its process and methods based on learning from past failures or identified scope for improvement areas: - Improved project organization: a role of Technical Head, Lean architecture team - Modular software development to accommodate frequent requirement changes - Front load Software Testing and slow ramp up of System Test team - Implement Master test strategy (central controlling and monitoring of testing activities for all domains, software, hardware, mechanical and system) - Systematic test case generation with more than 90% automation in the process HIA learned from its past successes and implemented in the project: - Reuse of software modules from other projects - Reuse of proven test setups
  8. 8. - Utilizing local competence to construct test equipment HIA studied industry practices and analyzed for feasibility in the project: - Test case reduction using ‘Taguchi Method’ - DOORS info model for requirements engineering The above approach is resulted in avoiding/mitigating known risks. The productivity has increased by 20% with respect to similar projects executed in the past. Most of the methods implemented in this project are identified as Best Practices. These practices are spread across the organization in various workshops. The practices will be implemented in other projects and analyzed for their consistent performance. RISK MANAGEMENT AND LESSONS LEARNED – LEADING TO IMPROVEMENT Efficient use of lessons can provide mitigation steps for the identified risk. Based on previous experience and successes, projects can choose most effective mitigation to the risk. This means lessons learned database is an effective tool for risk management. In many cases, lessons learned can prevent major missteps if applied before engineering or business judgments. The efficient use of lessons learned can provide an effective countermeasure against reasonably avoidable risks (Clawson, 2001). Risk management and lessons learned are related to each other. Lessons can be learned when risks realizes (failure occurs) and countermeasures are implemented to mitigate it. Similarly, lessons learned database can be used to minimize or avoid risk based on previous experience documented as part of lesson. It is a cycle of learning process and using the lessons learned. This cycle needs long period and mature processes to show the benefit. In project or business life cycle, risks realize, failures occur, ways are found to mitigate the risk or to overcome the failure and the organization learns in this process. The learning shall be used in future for not to realize same risk again. It goes in a cycle as shown in figure 4. Avoidance of risks, save organization from failures and hence, organization improves with respect to its past performance. Garvin (1993) says, learning organizations are not built overnight. Learning from failures and avoid failures based on learning is indeed a long and continuous process. Learning from Failure Risk Management
  9. 9. Figure 4: Cycle of using Lessons Learned PROCESS IMPLEMENTATION – KEY SUCCESS FACTORS Good practices are not adopted automatically-they must be driven into practice with courageous patience and effort (Midha, 2005). Most of the times, lessons learned from mistakes or successes appear obvious. Moreover, there are several barriers in employees mind makes process implementation difficult. Hence, we need to take systematic and consistent steps to implement it successfully. Strong Management Emphasis The process of learning and using it effectively in the organization shall be implemented ‘top-down’. Support, willingness and emphasis of leaders will ensure implementation of the process. Managers shall consistently talk about the lessons learned process implementation, sharing of the lessons and demonstrate outcome of the process in terms of productivity gain. Also, they shall mentor executives to think in right direction in dealing with the failures and encourage them to perform detailed analysis. Management shall take all necessary steps to get rid of barriers in implementation and make the process easy for implementation. Educate employees Educate employees about the process. Training with examples will help employees to realize value of the process. They shall be educated so that the barriers in their mind have to be removed. They shall be motivated and encouraged to participate in the learning process. Table 1 refers the barriers in employee due to which they may not participate in the process. Barriers Actions to Overcome Barriers Lack of awareness Conduct process awareness sessions and explain/demonstrate benefits of the process Lack of correct way of thinking about failure Ask employees to reflect on what they did wrong and push them to avoid similar mistakes in future and ask them to write report on what happened. Lack of guidelines Help/guidelines to follow the process shall be provided along with small training on the subject Lack of motivation for participation Demonstrate with fair example to educate employees and convince them as the process is not an overhead in long run Value shall be demonstrated by sharing realistic examples Detail guidelines and training to all employees Positive pressure from Management and direction will help. Table 1: Barriers
  10. 10. Associate pain of mistake Mistakes or lost opportunities can be expensive. Associate the cost/pain incurred to the mistake or lost opportunity. Lost opportunity can be not referring previous lessons or best practices from other organizations which could have prevented the expensive mistake. Such association will bring seriousness and the value of the lesson learned will be appreciated. Ensure the process is being followed Following the process consistently will be a key for success. It is a continuous improvement process and its effectiveness will be seen over a period. Infrastructure The Organization shall provide all necessary process workflow, tools and guidelines to facilitate intended implementation. Encourage Participation Employees shall be encouraged and rewarded for following the process and bringing value to the organization. CONCLUSION Learning comes from systematic analysis of failures and successes of own and from referring lessons learned and best practices followed in other organizations. These lessons can be effectively used to mitigate risks in future activities. Due to this, failures are avoided and successes are repeated. At the same time realization of unknown risks will teach lessons to the organization. Again the learned lessons help mitigating future risks. The cycle will lead to improvement as expensive mistakes and lost opportunities will reduce over a period of time. The process needs to be implemented consistently. Implementation of the process must be everyone’s responsibility. However, leaders shall participate in implementing the process and taking all necessary steps to overcome barriers. REFERENCES [1] Ami C. Edmondson, “Strategies for Learning From Failure”, Harvard Business Review – April 2011, pp. 48-55. [2] Anil Midha, “How to Incorporate “Lessons Learned” for Sustained Process Improvements”, NDIA CMMI Technology Conference, Sept 2005 [3] Aymen Mili, Samuel Bassetto, Ali Siadat and Michel Tollenaere, “Dynamic risk management unveil productivity improvements”, Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries 22 (2009) 25-34.
  11. 11. [4] C. Marlene Fiol and Marjorie A. Lyles, “Organizational Learning”, Academy of Management Review, 1985, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 803-813. [5] David A. Garvin, “Building a Learning Organization”, Harvard Business Review – July 1993 [6] Douglas C. Bower and Derek H. T. Walker, “Planning Knowledge for Phased Rollout Projects”, Project Management Journal, Sept 2007, Vol. 38, No. 3, pp. 45-60. [7] Francesca Gino and Gary P. Pisano, “Why Leaders Don’t Learn from Success”, Harvard Business Review, April 2011 [8] Gene Dixon, “Service Learning and Integrated, Collaborative Project Management”, Project Management Journal, Feb 2011, Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 42-58. [9] James F. Clawson and David Oberhettinger , “The Lessons Learned Process : An Effective Countermeasure Against Avoidable Risk”, IEEE Proceedings of the Reliability & Maintainability Symposium, 2001, pp.94-97. [10] Jerry Julian, “How Project Management Office Leaders Facilitate Cross-Project Learning and Continuous Improvement”, Project Management Journal, Sept 2008, Vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 43-58. [11] Jerry L. Wellman, “Organizational Learning: How Companies and Institutions Manage and Apply Knowledge”, Project Management Journal, Dec 2009, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 106. [12] Kam Jugdev, “Learning from Lessons Learned : Project Management Research Program”, American Journal of Economics and Business Administration 4 (1), 2012, pp. 13-22. [13] Mark D. Cannon and Amy C. Edmondson, “ Failing to Learn and Learning to Fail (Intelligently) : How Great Organizations Put Failure to Work to Innovate and Improve”, Long Range Planning 38 (2005) 299-319. [14] Mark Marlion PMP, “Implementing an Effective Lessons Learned Process in a Global Project Environment”, UTD 2 nd Annual Project Management Symposium Proceedings – Dallas, Texas, 2008 [15] Petr HANACEK, Petr PERINGER and Zdena RABOVA, “ Knowledge-Based Approach to Risk Analysis Modelling”, Proceedings of JCKBSE 2000, Brno, CZ, pp. 25-30. [16] PMI, 2010, A Guide To The Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) – Fourth Edition, Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA [17] S.G. McIntyre, M. Gauvin and B. Waruszynski, “Knowledge Management in the Military Context”, Canadian Military Journal, Spring 2003, pp. 35-40. [18] Y.H. Kwak and J. Stoddard, “Project risk management : lessons learned from software development environment”, Technovation 24, 2004, pp. 915-920.
  12. 12. AUTHOR PROFILE Sujit Barhate is currently working as Deputy General Manager at Hella India Automotive Pvt. Ltd., Pune, India He holds a BE in Instrumentation degree and completed a Business Management certificate course from XLRI, Jamshedpur. He has perused PMP credentials in April 2007 and CSM from Scrum Alliance in April 2008. He has around 14 years of experience in Process Instrumentation and Automotive Embedded System field.