What is a “Lessons Learned” session and what is it for?
We all learn as we go in business. As different scenarios come along and we struggle with them, we learn. This is why experience is the true indicator of probability of success. A session doing a “Lessons Learned” can be a quick discussion but to the point and can reap great benefits.
Doing an “LL” creates cohesiveness to your team. It identifies mistakes immediately and brings about solutions and resolutions to do things in a different way the next time.
The most important “LL” sessions come after proposals that do not win the award. Typically, you can obtain a briefing verbally from the Prime or the Government buyer regarding the reasons why you did not win. If not, your team can generate its own ideas and research those ideas.
What if the funding on a contract goes wrong and you lose incentive fees on a Cost Plus Incentive Fee type contract? Discuss this with your team and it will not take long to create a learning experience out of the brainstorming teams do.
There is no blame or shame to looking at your failures. As a united front, the team looks at these failures and gets stronger and better.
Now here is the most important part: Don’t forget the great things your team accomplishes! Those are great “LL”. If you try something new or you implement a specific process, examining the success will enable the team to repeat it.
How do you do a Lessons Learned session?
1. Site the object of the lesson. For example: Did not manage costs and now have to ask for more funding sooner than anticipated.
2. Discuss the way the costs were handled and what circumstances lead to the over expenditure.
3. Brainstorm on how to avoid this in the future. Ask the team who can help mitigate the problem in the future and how.
4. Write down the Lesson Learned and distribute to all the team members for their safe keeping.
5. Conduct all discussion in a constructive and open-minded manner, never leaving the lesson in one individual’s lap.
Last note on the subject:
Include your “LL” with your record of your performance rating in order to assist in creating a past performance history that is truly meaningful so that it becomes evident that your team is progressive and strong.
By Contract Connections Administration Services, LLC
Cheryl Ann DePace 410-302-6251