For those whose responsibilities include working on projects, formal project reviews provide a great opportunity for reflective learning. According to Bonnie Collier , “They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Those of us who have been at product development a while would agree that sometimes projects feel that way. Why do we keep making the same mistakes over and over? One way to get off this roller coaster is to conduct a project review when your project is over. Try it out. I guarantee that you will never look at a project the same way again.”
Michael Greer proposes a two-step approach to the review:
- “First, prepare and circulate a whole bunch of specific questions about the project and give team members time to think about them and prepare their responses individually.
- Next, hold a meeting and discuss the team’s responses to the questions. The result of this discussion is often a list of lessons learned.”
Greer explains that the benefit of the first step, carried out individually by team members, is that “it allows the quieter, more analytical people to develop their responses to the questions without being interrupted by the more outgoing, vocal types who might otherwise dominate in the face-to-face meeting.”
Project reviews are:
- at their best when conducted soon after the completion of the project, when they involve all team members, when the results are acted upon;
- best avoided when they are nothing more than a form-filling exercise, when the purpose is to apportion blame.