I have recently been in a meeting with HO concerning the next store opening and one of the points I raised with them was establishing a brief from the last store opening in a lessons learned risk assessment format. They seemed to portray that HO was well up to date with the issues of the previous store's initial progress, but I was not convinced.
Learning from the past is the key to getting it right in the future but its more than just writing a lessons learned report that will gather dust in the filing cabinet. Hard won lessons learned, need life beyond the end of project party. They need to be retold to others so that they too may avoid the same pitfalls. In a world where the pitfalls cost money, the value of lessons learned can mean the difference between profit or loss.
To start with you need an audience. There is no point gathering up all this experience if no one is going to read it. Identify key parties within the organisation or even the key suppliers who will be interested parties. These can be other project managers, the audit team, PM methodology team, quality assurance staff or even senior managers who will play the role of Project Executive in the up and coming projects.
Next you importantly need to make your point heard. If you think simply writing a report will do the trick, do not be surprised to find the organisation making the same mistake. So be proactive and setup a meeting with your standards teams, senior managers and colleagues to present and discuss the lessons learned report and make sure the key people required to action them are present.
Finally you need to follow it up. They may have heard you but did they actually put it into practice? This is my concern and in November I might find out whether my concerns are justified at the opening of another store.