3 Tips to Face What Went Wrong with Your Project

3 Tips to Face What Went Wrong with Your Project
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What Went Wrong With Your Project?
Regardless of the results, all good project leaders ask “What Went Wrong With Your Project?”  Whether the project was deemed a success or a failure, there are always opportunities to learn and improve.  As with most team endeavors, it all starts with project leadership.

Three Project Leadership Questions to Set the Stage
Before you begin a project retrospective, ask yourself a few key project leadership questions to set the right context:

  • Was I the right leader for this specific project?
  • Was this the right project for our company?
  • Did the team have the right resources for the project to be successful?

Once you set the stage from a leadership perspective, then it is time to design and deliver your project postmortem.

Postmortems Are Worth The Effort
Project postmortems can be difficult for inexperienced project leaders — but after action reviews are necessary if you want to continuously improve. How else are you to learn from any project missteps and improve your team performance on the next project you undertake?

There is Always Something to Celebrate, Learn, and Improve
Hopefully there is more to celebrate on the plus side than to critique on the negative side. But there is always something you or your project team could have done better. The question is what went wrong with your project and how best to discuss these often difficult issues and still maintain a positive team spirit?

Three Expert Tips to Face What Went Wrong with Your Project
Here are three tips to face what went wrong with your project:

  1. Focus Not on the Past but on the Future
    While it is important that everyone has a firm grasp on what happened in terms of the business case, project definition, scope, deliverables, timeline, and budget, make sure that you talk about what you could have done differently as a team that will help you tackle the next project.  This is not the time to fix blame but to set your sights on doing better next time.
  2. Create an Open Environment for an Open Discussion
    Psychological team safety is required to get the most from any project postmortem process.  Only include people (and leaders) that will allow for and encourage honest, straightforward dialogue. Team members should not be afraid to say what they observed and to share their ideas — but they should always be respectful.
  3. Set the Stage for any Change that is Needed
    Paint the big picture of what your team will look like when transformation is achieved and how each member will benefit. Gain team buy-in to your vision for change and incorporate your lessons learned into your next project plan.

The Bottom Line
Too many important projects fail to meet stakeholder expectations.  Ensure that your project teams continuously set aside the time to reflect, learn, and improve.

What to learn more about what went wrong with your project?  Download the Top 10 Project Management Mistakes and How to Prevent Them from Destroying Your Next Project


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