'Tis the season for retrospectives and lessons learned -- whether for our projects, or for our personal goals. This week we're highlighting some classic resources focused on helping your team get the most value out of year-end or project-end retrospectives, along with some reminders to help us review and reset for our own careers.
Yes, You Can Negotiate Project Constraints!
by Alan S. Koch
"This is what we need. You can use these resources. And you must deliver it by that date." Does this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. Many project managers find themselves in just such a situation. There are lots of dictates, no flexibility, and more often than not little realism in the demands.
What value is there in estimation when your sponsor seems to have no interest in finding out what it will really take to do the project? The constraints have been chiseled in stone and we can't change them. End of story. Our job boils down to trying to keep the project from being too much of a disaster.
Although it may not seem to be true, we can negotiate unrealistic project expectations. And the key is to do a good job of estimating what it really will take to do the project.
Revisiting Alan's classic advice for bringing your sponsor to the table to negotiate project constraints »
Looking Back to Look Ahead
Lessons Learned the Short and Sweet Way - Agile Technique Brief: Retrospectives – PREMIUM
The more focused and frequent lessons learned meetings are, the more valuable they will be. Retrospectives are an agile technique that any team can use to identify opportunities for improvement in their processes, team dynamics, and decision-making as well as areas for continued excellence. Frequent looks back at your project allow you to make course corrections as you work.
Lessons that Stick - Lessons Learned Meeting Report – PREMIUM
It's one thing to hold a retrospective, and another to learn from it. The guideline outlines the process for holding a lessons learned meeting and producing a tangible report that you and your colleagues can refer to for future projects.
Beyond Lessons Learned - Benefits Realization Plan – PREMIUM
You know what you learned from the project, but do you know whether it was worth it? Don't settle for a vague sense that the project was a good thing. A Benefits Realization Plan documents the expected benefits of the project, details how they will be measured, and captures those measurements for later assessment and use in lessons learned.
We're Almost Done
Oooh, Shiny! Project Closeout – MEMBER
When there are more exciting opportunities on the horizon, it can be a real struggle to focus on project closeout activities. But skimping here may set you up for problems later on, and even distract or detract from those glowing new opportunities. This two-item set provides a paper and presentation explaining why it's important to be organized about project closeout activities, and how to go about doing them.
Did I Make Myself Clear? Year-End Communication Review
Ann Drinkwater provides some great suggestions for taking stock of your communication habits over the last year. You may think you're communicating clearly, but these four review techniques may shine a light on areas you can target for improvement in year ahead.
So, What's Left? Year-End Inventory
Sinikka Waugh recommends that you do the same thing for your career that you would for your business: stop and take inventory. In six critical areas, you may have unrecognized assets or incomplete action items that can affect your choices (not to mention helping you update your resume). Reflect and evaluate on your year, and how it has contributed to your project success.
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