LEARNING LESSONSfrom a Completed Communications Project                                  Teresa S. Stover
OVERVIEW           Using Past                        How Lessons            Lessons                        Learned Help   ...
ROOM TO TALK               20+ years as a consultant               • Technical writing               • Project management ...
BY ANY OTHER WORD“Lessons Learned”“Post Mortem”“Debrief” “Project Implementation Review”                                   4
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW?               What worked well               What didn’t work            What can be improved   ...
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?                  Collect input                Record feedback               Share knowledge       ...
WHO’S INVOLVED IN LESSONS LEARNED?                  •Department head   Leaders:       •Project manager                  •T...
WHAT KINDS OF PROJECTS BENEFIT?User interface/user experience designInstructional designTraining development and deliveryW...
HOW LESSONS LEARNED HELP                           9
HOW LESSONS LEARNED HELP Build on success of  earlier projects Mitigate known risks Adjust the approach or  process Im...
HOW LESSONS LEARNED HELP Foster continuous  improvement Advance professional  development Cultivate organizational  mat...
HOW LESSONS LEARNED HELPScheduleScopePeopleBudgetRiskQualityProcessTools                           12
OBTAINING LESSONS LEARNED                            13
OBTAINING LESSONS LEARNED - OVERVIEW Collecting data throughout  the project Preparing for the lessons  learned meeting...
COLLECTING DATA THROUGHOUT THE PROJECT   Periodic team meetings   Status reports   Issues tracking   Your observation ...
PREPARING FOR THE LESSONS LEARNED MEETING Location Date(s) and time(s) Clear agenda Participants Invitation Facilitator Sc...
PREPARING FOR THE LESSONS LEARNED MEETING  What was the most fulfilling aspect?  What was the most difficult problem?  How...
CONDUCTING THE LESSONS LEARNED MEETING   Set and follow your clear agenda       Meeting goal       Expected outcome    ...
CONDUCTING THE LESSONS LEARNED MEETING   Review ground rules       One speaker at a time       Staying on topic       ...
REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY                               20
REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY   Consider additional ground rules       Keep it positive       Be respectful       Be co...
REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY   Intention is not to place blame   Intention is to discover and    remember   Keep the fo...
REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY   Professional development   Organizational growth   Preventing a reinvention    of the wh...
REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY   Make the final question positive   Summarize great results   Speak to successful teaming...
REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY   Alternatives for difficult situations       Meet one on one       Meet in smaller groups...
DOCUMENTING LESSONS LEARNED: OVERVIEW                                        26
DOCUMENTING LESSONS LEARNED: OVERVIEW Processing the mass of information Recording the key take-aways Distributing less...
PROCESSING THE MASS OF INFORMATION   The Simpler Report       Project Overview       The Lessons Learned        Process...
PROCESSING THE MASS OF INFORMATION   More Detailed Report       By phase       By module       By disciplines       B...
PROCESSING THE MASS OF INFORMATION   Knowledge Base       Spreadsheet or database       Links to documents       Colle...
RECORDING KEY TAKE-AWAYS                           •What can and should                            be repeated in the     ...
RECORDING KEY TAKE-AWAYS   Emphasize continuous    process improvement   Recommend    root cause analysis   Use keyword...
DISTRIBUTING LESSONS LEARNED Inclusion in the project  archives Team members Management Others in the organization Di...
USING PAST LESSONS LEARNED                             34
USING PAST LESSONS LEARNED Preventthe “filed and forgotten” syndrome Lessonslearned are a gold mine Solutionsare a leg ...
USING PAST LESSONS LEARNED Make research of past lessons learned a part of every new project startup Share   with collea...
QUESTIONS? COMMENTS?                       37
TELL ME MOREHave you had a particularly bad experience with a lessonslearned process?Have you had a particularly good expe...
REFERENCES Your Project Management  Coach Microsoft Project 2010  Inside Out Project Management Body of  Knowledge (PMB...
THANK YOU! teresa@stoverwriting.com www.stoverwriting.com www.projectsinpractice.com Teresa Stover on LinkedIn @stove...
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Learning Lessons from a Completed Communications Project

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Given at the Technical Communications Summit, 4-5 pm on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 by Teresa Stover of Stover Writing Services.

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Learning Lessons from a Completed Communications Project

  1. 1. LEARNING LESSONSfrom a Completed Communications Project Teresa S. Stover
  2. 2. OVERVIEW Using Past How Lessons Lessons Learned Help Learned Documenting Obtaining Lessons Lessons Learned Learned 2
  3. 3. ROOM TO TALK 20+ years as a consultant • Technical writing • Project management • Author of 15 books STC Senior Member • Consulting and Independent Contracting SIG • Willamette (Oregon) chapter 3
  4. 4. BY ANY OTHER WORD“Lessons Learned”“Post Mortem”“Debrief” “Project Implementation Review” 4
  5. 5. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW? What worked well What didn’t work What can be improved 5
  6. 6. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO? Collect input Record feedback Share knowledge 6
  7. 7. WHO’S INVOLVED IN LESSONS LEARNED? •Department head Leaders: •Project manager •Team leader •Team member •Writer Practitioners: •Designer •Developer 7
  8. 8. WHAT KINDS OF PROJECTS BENEFIT?User interface/user experience designInstructional designTraining development and deliveryWebsite design and launchSingle source projectOnline helpWeb content developmentPublication project 8
  9. 9. HOW LESSONS LEARNED HELP 9
  10. 10. HOW LESSONS LEARNED HELP Build on success of earlier projects Mitigate known risks Adjust the approach or process Improve tools 10
  11. 11. HOW LESSONS LEARNED HELP Foster continuous improvement Advance professional development Cultivate organizational maturity 11
  12. 12. HOW LESSONS LEARNED HELPScheduleScopePeopleBudgetRiskQualityProcessTools 12
  13. 13. OBTAINING LESSONS LEARNED 13
  14. 14. OBTAINING LESSONS LEARNED - OVERVIEW Collecting data throughout the project Preparing for the lessons learned meeting Conducting the lessons learned meeting Reducing post mortem anxiety 14
  15. 15. COLLECTING DATA THROUGHOUT THE PROJECT Periodic team meetings Status reports Issues tracking Your observation 15
  16. 16. PREPARING FOR THE LESSONS LEARNED MEETING Location Date(s) and time(s) Clear agenda Participants Invitation Facilitator Scribe 16
  17. 17. PREPARING FOR THE LESSONS LEARNED MEETING What was the most fulfilling aspect? What was the most difficult problem? How did you solve it? What process or tool can we improve, and how? Should we enter the STC competition? Explain. How did it go with our SMEs? Do you have a technique that improved results? 17
  18. 18. CONDUCTING THE LESSONS LEARNED MEETING Set and follow your clear agenda  Meeting goal  Expected outcome  Topics  Time limits Start and end on time Emphasize the meeting goal and outcome Outline the meeting structure 18
  19. 19. CONDUCTING THE LESSONS LEARNED MEETING Review ground rules  One speaker at a time  Staying on topic  Allow everyone to contribute  Maintain time limit 19
  20. 20. REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY 20
  21. 21. REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY Consider additional ground rules  Keep it positive  Be respectful  Be constructive  Use “I” statements  Practice active listening  Let the speaker finish  Offer solutions and recommendations 21
  22. 22. REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY Intention is not to place blame Intention is to discover and remember Keep the focus on solutions for the future Continuous improvement 22
  23. 23. REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY Professional development Organizational growth Preventing a reinvention of the wheel Instead, improving on the wheel 23
  24. 24. REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY Make the final question positive Summarize great results Speak to successful teaming Celebrate at meeting’s end 24
  25. 25. REDUCING POST MORTEM ANXIETY Alternatives for difficult situations  Meet one on one  Meet in smaller groups where there’s more trust  Submit questionnaires in writing  Submit questionnaires anonymously  Have only peers present in the meeting  Don’t include names, titles, or other identifiers in resulting report or knowledge base 25
  26. 26. DOCUMENTING LESSONS LEARNED: OVERVIEW 26
  27. 27. DOCUMENTING LESSONS LEARNED: OVERVIEW Processing the mass of information Recording the key take-aways Distributing lessons learned 27
  28. 28. PROCESSING THE MASS OF INFORMATION The Simpler Report  Project Overview  The Lessons Learned Process  Successes and Strengths of the Project  Challenges and Weaknesses of the Project  Recommendations and Solutions 28
  29. 29. PROCESSING THE MASS OF INFORMATION More Detailed Report  By phase  By module  By disciplines  By constraint 29
  30. 30. PROCESSING THE MASS OF INFORMATION Knowledge Base  Spreadsheet or database  Links to documents  Collecting throughout the project  Collecting across multiple projects 30
  31. 31. RECORDING KEY TAKE-AWAYS •What can and should be repeated in the future Strengths •Recommendations on improving strengths •Specifics of what didn’t work well Weaknesses •Avoid blame •Focus on solutions and risk avoidance 31
  32. 32. RECORDING KEY TAKE-AWAYS Emphasize continuous process improvement Recommend root cause analysis Use keywords and informational contact 32
  33. 33. DISTRIBUTING LESSONS LEARNED Inclusion in the project archives Team members Management Others in the organization Different versions for different audiences 33
  34. 34. USING PAST LESSONS LEARNED 34
  35. 35. USING PAST LESSONS LEARNED Preventthe “filed and forgotten” syndrome Lessonslearned are a gold mine Solutionsare a leg up for new projects 35
  36. 36. USING PAST LESSONS LEARNED Make research of past lessons learned a part of every new project startup Share with colleagues 36
  37. 37. QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? 37
  38. 38. TELL ME MOREHave you had a particularly bad experience with a lessonslearned process?Have you had a particularly good experience?What do you like the best? The least?What do you find most valuable about the lessons learnedprocess?What elements of a lessons learned process do you prefer? 38
  39. 39. REFERENCES Your Project Management Coach Microsoft Project 2010 Inside Out Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) Projects In Practice blog: www.projectsinpractice.com 39
  40. 40. THANK YOU! teresa@stoverwriting.com www.stoverwriting.com www.projectsinpractice.com Teresa Stover on LinkedIn @stoverts on Twitter 40

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