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Project Manager : Project Manager June July 2013
4 Project Manager FIRST WORD In pursuit of lessons learnt KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT REMAINS THE CINDERELLA OF OUR CORPORATE PRACTICES. IT GOES MUCH DEEPER THAN COLLECTING LESSONS LEARNT Allow me to divert into some practice discussion this edition. Part of my work involves conducting organisational project capability studies, also refer red to as project maturity analyses. An encouraging element in those studies is the clear evidence that organisational project management maturity has improved nationally in the past ve years. I put this dow n to factors including the increasing engagement of e xecutive management, the steady impact of organisational and individual competency standards, and the increasing body of experienced practitioners prepared to champion better practices in their organisations. But if one result in those studies remains confronting and frustrating, it is the degree that knowledge management remains the Cinderella of our corporate practices. Knowledge management goes much deeper than collecting lessons learnt. Indeed I am in awe of the engagement of many of us in lessons learnt. But without a real value proposition, collecting lessons learnt is pointless. Often I nd wide tacit support for the value of individual knowledge in an organisation but, below the surface, the value chain stops there. It is quite common to nd that this tacit recognition is not supported by any real value enablers. At best, information is dumped into a general, often unsearchable, body of lessons learnt, with hardly evidence of systematic use of that information. ere are some important reasons why organisations should not just value individual knowledge, but why that infor mation should be harvested, protected and triaged: Firstly, tacit individual knowledge represents an enor mous slice of corporate intellectual property. While it remains tacit it is unavailable to the organisation in any formal, systematic or usable way. Unsurprisingly, this tacit knowledge often walks out the door when an individual leaves an organisation. is is a legal issue as much as a capability issue. I wonder what would happen to a legal challenge against a person utilising previously acquired intellectual property if it could be clearly proven that the organisation from which the infor mation was acquired had show n no tangible interest in that intellectual property. Secondly, lessons learnt can be used to update and improve project assumptive data over short- to medium-term planning horizons: risk assumptions, activity duration estimates, cost estimates, procurement intelligence etc. If organisations chose to link, say, the di erence between original planning estimates on one hand and nal baseline data on the other, that information could be used to systematically reduce the delta between original planning estimates and nal performance data across a range of project planning functions. Finally, orga nisations should triage lessons lear nt about project process quality and project process performance to separate that lear ning into special case or 'unique to project' experiences and general case or 'organisationally relevant' lessons. e special case lessons may be o f value while contributing to the ongoing learning of the project manager and team members. However, the general case lessons are of much wider organisational value. ey can be used to improve the project management quality system that de nes the organisation's project policies, tools and templates. ose interested in organisational project management maturity, consider this: an organisation that systematically incorporates general case project lessons into the continuous improvement of its PM quality system would be making signi cant steps towards achieving OPMM Level 5 behaviour. I take my hat o -- guratively, not having wor n one since my Army days -- to those who do systematically undertake project lessons learnt reviews. Certainly some organisations have already 'got' this message. But many do so mainly for personal improvement. It is ironic that lessons learnt, knowledge management, intellectual property control and process improvement are so easily linked with just a little more organisational discipline than some of our organisations currently employ. David Hudson National President
Project Manager Apr May 2013
Project Manager Aug Sept 2013