As a Project Manager you should always be striving to improve and one of the things the improving Project Manger needs to do is to learn from the things that go well and not so well during the course of a project. However, it is of little value in assessing what went well or badly at the end of the project, at that point your sub-conscious will seek to blot out the bad things and only highlight the good. To avoid falling into this trap you must keep an honest record of how the project develops as it progresses and look specifically for lessons to be learned from both the good and bad things that happen.
Finding what’s worth learning from.
Needless to say you don’t want to be distracted from getting on with being a successful PM through collating notes on all the good and bad things that happen during a project, nor should you leave doing it until the project is nearly completed. So, like any task you instigate as the PM – make sure that you involve others in collating a dossier of all the things that it’ll be important learn from during the life of the project. Also, make sure that when inviting staff to help you compile this dossier that you select them from across the range of staff working on the project, not just Team Leaders or departmental managers. Secondly, be clear with them why you want to compile this dossier. It’s not to “hit people over the head with” nor is it to sit back smugly and congratulate yourselves on what a superb job you’ve all done.
You can always improve.
Everyone, if they truly want to, can always improve on their performance – no matter what it is they’re engaged in. The purpose of compiling a dossier is to be able to better avoid pitfalls in the next project and to better understand how to ensure even greater success in that next project. So, the use of the word ‘dossier’ here is quite deliberate. You must write these things down and you must be prepared to refer to them – if you are truly committed to improving yourself as a PM. However, of course, remember that anyone can have brilliant 20-20 hindsight – so don’t be to hard on yourself or others when looking at things that could have been done better. Just remember to take those lessons with you into that next project.