by Jim Vaughan

Thinking Differently Through Lessons Learned

Sep 03, 2009
IT Leadership

Learning from our previous projects is a project manager's best friend.

This article was originally written for and published in the PMI Chicagoland September 2009 newsletter.

This year we held a dinner meeting in August. For as long as I can remember with the Chicagoland chapter has not held a dinner meeting in July or August. We have always taken these months off as our “summer hiatus.” This was true even when the board transitioned in January. The main reason I heard as to why we took off these months was because many people were on vacation. I am thinking that this decision was made a long time ago when we were only getting 50 people to attend these meetings. Recently we have been attracting upward of 300 people to our meetings. So even if half those people were on vacation that particular day we could still draw 150 people. It turns out that we had 260 registered and a great presentation. I have declared this meeting a success.

We often get caught up in doing things the same old way. I think about the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. He woke up every day to the same music, the same news and same people doing things the same way. He eventually realized that he could change the way he related to these situations. He learned to play the piano and learned what it took to meet the girl of his dreams. Rather than getting hung up in the same old way of doing things, he made a change within himself and as a result changed the world around him.

Our projects often get stuck in the rut of doing the same old thing. One project leads to another and is done the same old way. These are the project patterns that Joe Norton (CTO Novartis and former VP of Education at the Chicagoland chapter) often speaks about. Rather than continuing with these patterns project after project we, the project managers, need to look for opportunities for change. Just like Bill Murray tried different things, often failed and learned from those failures, we need to try new strategies and learn from the failures and successes. We, as project managers, need to lead the charge for using lessons learned and instituting change.

Be bold, go out and create improvements through lessons learned and implementing change. The rewards of the successes will far outweigh the losses of the failures. So make these changes and change the world around YOU.