I’ll admit that I’m pretty ambivalent about professional football generally and don’t follow closely either the Patriots or the Giants. I do watch the Super Bowl every year and this game was one of the best in recent memory. It was an exciting game to watch. I found myself alternately rooting for the Giants and the Patriots during different quarters of the game. The outcome would have been very different were it not for an interception and a couple of dropped passes. But that’s the nature of the game, right?
Like many of the people watching the game, the commercials were also of some interest—although most of them didn’t inspire a desire to purchase their products. There were a couple that generated a chuckle though.
Clint Eastwood’s ad about halftime in America got me thinking. Not necessarily about buying American cars (I already own two of them), but the whole concept of gathering the team together in the locker room, evaluating performance, creating a game plan for the second half based upon the mistakes and successes of the first half.
Whether it’s the Super Bowl or the project you’re working on right now, a lot depends upon the ability of the team to perform in crunch time. Sometimes during the course of a project, it makes sense to gather the team, review the game plan and make needed adjustments.
Learning from past experience doesn’t always have to wait until halftime either. I’m convinced that we need to take a consistent approach that can be incorporated into any work management methodology. Here are a few suggestions to help any project team learn from experience:
- Establish a venue for sharing lessons learned: It doesn’t matter whether you call it a post-mortem, a project review or a halftime chat, most organizations don’t do them—but they should. It’s a real shame that many project teams move from one project to another without even taking a breath; let alone taking the oportunity to capture lessons learned from the last project.
- Share what has been learned: Although many organizations don’t take the time to do any kind of retrospective, very few of those that do share what they’ve learned. If lessons learned are captured and then tucked away in a file somewhere, the exercise doesn’t do any good. Not only your own team, but other teams within the organization can benefit from a culture that freely shares lessons learned upon the completion of a project.
- Don’t make learning a one-time activity: Proper learning should be ongoing and interactive. Don’t let it become an isolated activity that happens rarely.
Sometimes it makes sense to gather the team together for a halftime meeting to assess progress, address issues and establish a strategy for improving performance. No two organizations are exactly the same. Regardless of how you approach projects generally, it’s important to foster a culture where project learning can take place. What does your company do to capture best practices and learn from experience?