Lessons. Why Don’t We Learn From Them?

Lessons. Why Don’t We Learn From Them? image shutterstock 130940975shutterstock_130940975

A lesson in remembering to put the lid back on a pen

The question that is often asked amongst many of us in project management is: “Why didn’t we learn from that experience?”

Albert Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So why do we often follow this ‘insane’ path in project management?

The next time you are in a meeting, just try this out:

Either you, or someone else, is presenting when the inevitable happens – you go to write something on the flipchart or the whiteboard and the pen is dry.

How many of you (and I freely admit I am just as guilty) put the pen down on the rack again, pick up another one and carry on with the key point you were making, while leaving the same dry pen for the next person – or worse, for yourself to do the same thing again a little later in the meeting?

Did you expect the pen to magically refill itself? Of course not, now that would be madness!

Did you put the pen in the bin and ensure that a new one was put in its place, or at least noted for someone that new pens were required? (Probably not.)

It is a simple yet effective lesson in lessons learned – or the process of not learning, to be more precise.

Are we programmed not to learn lessons?

Clearly not, as if that was the case then we would have wiped ourselves out as a race a long, long time ago.

So why don’t we learn lessons when it comes to project experiences?

Well I think that in actual fact we do, or personally we do. Our personal project experience has to be a learning experience – even if that learning experience is: “I am getting out of project management and finding a real job to do.”

So we do learn, and we do progress and grow as project managers and we are all the better for it.

The challenge comes from sharing the knowledge of those lessons amongst others, and in learning from others’ experience in return.

It is a matter of scale and capability, all mixed together with time and priorities.

It is not the process of binning the empty pen and replacing the pen, but in letting others know what and why you did that – and how it can benefit them in the future and why they should also pass on this piece of knowledge.

It is less ‘lessons learned’ than ‘lessons shared’.

So the next time you go to write something on the flipchart or the whiteboard and the pen is dry, stop, turn to face your audience and say: “Right, this pen is going in the bin and let me tell you why…”

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