There is a general misconception regarding a lessons learned session in a projects. Most of lessons learned sessions focus on what is going wrong. This way even the most well executed and lucrative project can look like a sick patient.
Let’s talk about the key aspects of lessons learned.
The goal of any a lessons learned session is to find the key success elements and also things to improve.
First of all you should invite your whole team to a lessons learned session, which usually will last between 4 and 6 hours. Also announce the session in your company in advance to prevent any interruptions.
All you need for the session is a whiteboard to write down suggestions from the team members and a comfortable room.
A classic way to start off is to ask “What should we do different and what makes us so good?”. Every team member should give a suggestion, which you will write down on the whiteboard. To prevent some members from dominating the discussion, allow only one suggestion at the time and then pass to the next team member. Usually this will go for three to five rounds, depending how many team members there are.
You also do not have to wait with the discussion till there are no more suggestions. Allow discussions right away - this will uncover deeper ideas. Also, remind your team members to focus on positive and negative aspects - for some reason most people tend to see the negative first, which can overweight the whole process.
After all the suggestions are written on the whiteboard and discussed it it time to vote. The first vote is given to the positive suggestions, the second on things to be improved. Every team member has three votes for the positive and three votes for the negative aspect. Mark the votes with a check mark or point next to the suggestion. It is also possible to give two or even three votes for only one suggestion.
After the voting, select the top three positive and three negative aspects for the protocol. You should also keep all the other suggestions for future reference. Now you and your team can work on the voted suggestions till the next lessons learned session.