“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” -Maybe some project manager somewhere
The end of project/end of sprint retrospective or post-mortem is one of the most important parts of the overall project management process. As the quote implies, finishing isn’t the key takeaway, it’s how you got there.
As important as it is to achieve milestones on time, within budget and without burning out contributors, you want to know why you were able to achieve milestones on time, within budget, and without burning out the project team.
Alternatively, you want to be able to identify:
Why your deliverables slipped
Why they were handed off late
Why you went over budget
Why your team won’t make eye contact with you anymore
At 3Sharp, we call it a Lessons Learned and they occur at the close of a project. So this is Lessons Learned: the journey of a Project Manager. Depending on whether there are insights to be gleaned, the project team goes into a conference room to discuss their perspectives.
The goal is to identify root cause(s) for success(es). Also, challenges to see what can be scaled and carried over to the next project. What can we do better? What issues did we run into, and what can be mitigated or avoided altogether? What was missed during the scoping phase of the tasks and deliverables? It’s an open, transparent environment where participants are encouraged to share their perspectives… without assigning blame.
The goal, after all, is improvement
While this seems like these sessions can devolve into a contentious exercise where everyone leaves the room frustrated or at odds with one another, the opposite is actually true.
As much as we want to be able to figure out what went wrong, we celebrate the successes and wins. There’s a lot of value in shared knowledge. So the takeaways and lessons learned are shared broadly amongst the company. Good ideas from one project can be leveraged on other projects to help keep things on point.
It can be refreshing to commiserate on projects that went long and over budget. Or to bask in the kudos of a project that was a win all around.