Coronavirus (COVID-19), Learning & Development

Lessons Learned Sessions Post-Pandemic

As many companies transition away from widespread remote work, many leaders within these organizations are looking for ways to provide some closure to the past year plus of disruption or facilitate a transition to a new normal. A great way they can do this is by holding a “lessons learned” session with their teams and documenting the outcome of that session.

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Sharing Lessons Learned

“Lessons learned are the documented information that reflects both the positive and negative experiences of a project,” write Sandra F. Rowe and Sharon Sikes in a conference paper for the Project Management Institute. “They represent the organization’s commitment to project management excellence and the project manager’s opportunity to learn from the actual experiences of others.”

Obviously, a conference paper for the Project Management Institute is going to be targeted primarily at an audience of project managers, but project management tools, like lessons learned sessions, are broadly applicable across a variety of organizational management applications.

A return from pandemic-related remote work is a great application for a lessons learned session.

Debriefing on COVID-19 Impacts

The COVID-19 pandemic was a brand-new experience for all involved. For millions of employees, it was their first experience working and collaborating with teammates remotely. For many managers, it was their first experience managing remote teams.

While every organization faced challenges and setbacks most, hopefully, also had some successes or at least learned valuable lessons that might be applicable going forward. This is the key to the lessons learned meeting.

“By not learning from project failures we are doomed to repeat similar situations,” Rowe and Sikes write. “By not maximizing on project successes, we miss opportunities to implement good processes and practices to successfully complete existing and future work.”

Lessons learned sessions can be an excellent way for managers to signal the transition from the pandemic-driven remote workplace to the new normal, whether that means everyone back in the office full-time or some kind of hybrid approach. In addition to serving as a review of the past several months and a jumping off point to the future, lessons learned meetings help preserve those practices and strategies that worked well pre-pandemic and an opportunity to rethink those that didn’t.