Join or Login
Post view

The MOBA Project Management - Part 20

Learning from mistakes in projects

Projects fail from time to time - that cannot be avoided!
Whereby "failure" does not always mean that no result was achieved in the project at all.
In a broader sense
- a final deadline that was not met according to plan,
- exceeding the budgeted costs and
- not achieving one of the project targets set
must also be regarded as a "minor failure".

The causes that lead to the failure to achieve the set goals are manifold.
There are Factual and Technical Errors (lack of know-how, work with new, unproven technologies, false estimation of project content and scope),
Management Errors (incorrect personnel and budget planning, unclear responsibilities, errors in project management, company policy decisions that affect the project),
Communication Errors (communication flow is not sufficiently or clearly regulated, too little or completely omitted communication)
and then, of course, the so called "Soft Factors" (team members who do not get along with each other, lack of team spirit, overload, lack of motivation, insufficient leadership quality of the project management).

Why a goal was not achieved in the project that has just been completed is rarely agreed upon by everyone involved. Everybody puts together his own version of the mistakes and culprits, and if the same mistakes happen again in the next project, this is only seen as confirmation of one's own assessment.
However, the goal must be to learn from recognized mistakes for future projects. Only when everyone agrees on what actually went wrong can it be done better next time.

To achieve this, it is crucial to create a hierarchy-free space in which different rules apply than in the workplace and in which open criticism is possible. It is easier to criticize when the person being criticized appears in an equal and not in a managerial or superior capacity. What someone says in such an "open conversation space" may not be used against them "outside".

The lessons learned meeting at the end of a project is an established and proven tool of both classic and agile project management.
However, it is more effective to hold reviews of the project's progress to date while it is still ongoing. These reviews can, for example, be linked to milestones or take place at regular intervals. In this way, errors can be detected and addressed at an early stage and counteracted with appropriate measures.

The following applies to every review: It is not about finding culprits!
The primary focus should not be on what went wrong, but on what could have been done better: Lessons, we have learned.

A successfully implemented project is always a learning success. But even if projects fail, the mistakes made should be more of a reason for critical questioning than a search for scapegoats.

Content and execution of a lessons learned meeting could be an upcoming topic in our ongoing series of blog posts on "Project Management".

Don’t miss the previous parts from this series:

Part I (
Part II (
Part III (
Part IV (
Part V (
Part VI (
Part VII (
Part VIII (
Part IX (
Part X (
Part XI (
Part XII (
Part XIII (
Part XIV (
Part XV (
Part XVI (
Part XVII (
Part XVIII (
Part XIX (

hstrohmayer 07.04.2021 0 415
Order by: 
Per page:
  • There are no comments yet
0 votes
Technical Articles (6 posts)