When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn*

How many times do we read that we must learn from our mistakes (I would also add from our successes!)? We encourage all of our clients to:

  1. use lessons learned reports or learning logs throughout projects
  2. hold end of project reviews where learning is at the centre of the meeting
However, our experience shows that few projects use both of the above with some using learning logs – though very loosely.

I came across an interesting article in Computer Weekly headed “Litany of errors plagued Housing Corp IT project” The article goes into some detail about the errors and gives information published from firm of Consultants – click here for details of the report. The key findings are shown below:

*The Corporation lacked the the expertise to manage the project. As a result managers relied too heavily on technical advice from a single freelance IT consultant, despite warnings that this posed a risk

*The business case was “inconsistent” and “incomplete”. It contained misleading assumptions and contradictory data

*Managers did not challenge the technical solution, despite reservations from independent advisors

*Executives gave repeated but mistaken assurances that the project was under control, despite difficult pilots

*Business users had little input into the design of the system, which suffered from technical problems and did not meet their needs

Now, an important point. I do not write this to embarrass The Housing Corporation: far from it! I write this to see what we can all learn from it

How does your organisation go about identifying and sharing learning – both positive and not so positive? How many times must the same mistakes be made before senior managers realise there is a pattern going on? Do you hold meetings where real learning is identified and acted upon? If no, you should and you need to action this now!

Do you need really bad PR/publicity before your organisation takes measures to deal with learning and project management generally

BEWARE: You don’t want to be the next headline.


* words to a song http://www.volcano.net/~jackmearl/songs/wsongs/where_have_all_the_flowers_gone.html

by Pete Seeger


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One Response to When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn*

  1. Pingback: Learning from project failures | Project Management Training with Ron Rosenhead

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