Lessons Learned is a concept which enables an organisation to learn from past experience and to improve its project management skills and maturity with the completion of each successive project.
The completion of each phase of the project lifecylce provides a good opportunity to create an archive which ensures that the organisation benefits from experience … both what went well and what went badly.
It is important to take stock so that we don’t repeat your mistakes in the next project.
If you are thinking about maturity at all levels across your organisation a P3M3 … Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Maturity Model … questionnaire can be downloaded for you to use to assess yourself… http://www.p3m3-officialsite.com/home/home.asp
Two Step Process
I recommend a two step approach for conducting reviews or post mortems.
first – prepare and circulate lots of specific questions about the project and give team members time to think about and prepare their responses individually.
second – hold a meeting and discuss the teams’ responses … the result of the discussion is often a list of lessons learned.
The benefit of the first step is that it allows quieter, more analytical people to develop responses without interruption by more outgoing, vocal types who might otherwise dominate meetings
It also allows everyone time to create more thoughtful responses.