This is a continuation of a new blog series that I started a about a month ago, which I’ll wrap-up over the next few weeks.  As a brief refresher, my goal has been to write a blog on one habit per week, and so far, we are still on track to finish in another 2 weeks or so.  As I’ve mentioned in the previous habits, the content for this series has been developed over many years and hundreds of client projects.  In fact, in addition to applying the habits to all of our client projects, we often speak on these habits as part of a larger session we call “CPR”, where we discuss project rescue and how projects can avoid having to be rescued.  The ultimate goal here is to present these habits in a short and succinct manner, so that you can have clear takeaways to immediately put into practice on your projects. 

If you arrived here and have not yet read the first 4 blogs in this series, I would encourage you to start there.  I have provided links below to the first four habits that that we have looked at so far.

Habit 1: Chart Your Journey

Habit 2: Stay The Course

Habit 3: Invest In The Unseen

Habit 4: Avoid The Silver Bullet Syndrome

So, without further ado, let’s jump in to the fifth habit. 

Habit 5: Live In The Past

imageLet’s face it - no one ever tells you to focus on the past.  In fact, we’re all told, from very early on, to stay focused on the “here and now” and to look ahead to our future.  After all, there is no future, living in the past.  However, while it may be a bit of a stretch, I would like to encourage those who are currently working on a project or getting ready to start a project, to take some time to reflect on the past.  Let me to explain.

While the first habit was clearly about charting your journey and determining where you want to go (i.e. the future), we need to realize that one of the most important tools at our disposal is experience.  We all have it, and if you’re thinking, “Nope, not us!”, then you may have overlooked some valuable assets within your own organization (you did spend time building the team, right?).  Do you see a pattern here?  People, once again, are at the core of the most successful projects.  Our people, our teams, and YOU, are the very ones who have lived through past projects.  You know the ones - the successes, failures, political battles, political victories, unhappy end-users, and organization-wide adoption.  These experiences, both good and bad, should not be wasted, and with a little planning and time investment, you can help ensure that your project is a successful one.  Here are two practical ways to begin leveraging your experience today.

  1. Begin building an employee database to track skills and past projects.  This doesn’t have to be a huge HR project; start small within your own department or business unit.  The goal is to better understand the skills and projects with which your team has experience.  Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean just within your company as well.  Have your people think back to their resume - that’s a great place to start.  Chances are, you may have someone in your group that has worked on a similar project and can provide input and insight into your new or current project.  Unlock the experience and knowledge within your team, and you will dramatically increase your chances for a successful project  When in doubt, ASK if someone has worked on a similar project in their career.
  2. Be diligent about tracking lessons learned.  This is something C5 Insight started years ago, and upon completion of every project, large or small, we close the project by having a lessons learned meeting, both internally and with our clients.  The fact is, we are constantly learning – what worked, what didn’t, what took longer than expected, what we could have done without, etc.  Again, this doesn’t have to be a huge effort.  Start small.  In our case, we use OneNote religiously, and within every client project notebook, we have a section for lessons learned.  The project team can enter these as the project progresses, and we can recap them at the end to develop a plan to avoid them in the future.  Lastly, once you track them, act on them.  This is the more difficult task – making these lessons learned actionable – but it can, and should, be done.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

I hope this fifth habit has been helpful and relevant.  Again, the goal is to keep these short and sweet, so my desire is that you will be able to take away a few nuggets of wisdom and experience from this series.  Stay tuned for habit six next week!

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