Lessons Learned: Improving Future Projects by Looking Back

For most companies, minimizing mistakes is a priority. Errors and inefficiencies are going to happen on a project, but how you handle them is key to future success. At Poli Construction, we strive to learn from our mistakes by turning them into lessons learned. Here are a few ways to learn from your mistakes and to improve future projects.

  • Anticipate failure. Everyone and every business are going to make mistakes along the way. Accept that you and your employees are bound to make the occasional missteps, especially when trying new tactics. If faced with a new task that you don’t have much experience in, expect mistakes along the way and ask those who do have experience for help. Chances are they can help you avoid errors. 
  • Review your goals. Constantly review the goals of the project and clearly state the plan. Having a defined process can minimize or prevent some errors that might occur. If employees are unsure of what is expected from them, the number of mistakes will increase. 
  • Acknowledge the mistakes. Some companies might attempt to hide or deny past mistakes, but this can actually lead to more mistakes in the future. Errors need to be addressed and discussed. How management handles the situation can affect the project as well as how employees handle their own mistakes. The only way to learn from mistakes is to share your experience. This tactic can help streamline the planning process for future projects. Learn from failures, it’s essential for success. Covering up mistakes prevents learning.
  • Analyze the mistakes. Figure out why the mistake happened in the first place. Evaluate the differences between what you expect and what actually happened. Without addressing why the error occurred in the first place, it’s difficult to avoid the same error in the future. 
  • Document the mistakes. While mistakes are inevitable, that doesn’t mean the same mistakes need to be repeated. Gauge what was done right and what was done wrong, and keep those notes on hand for the next project. Turn the mistakes into a lesson to be learned that will set you up for future success.

The silver lining is that mistakes can always become a lesson. They allow for innovative thinking and exploring solutions that might not have been previously considered. In order to sustain success, analyze what is working and what is not.

At Poli Construction Inc., we have found the approach of ‘Lessons Learned’ to benefit us as an organization. Our project teams at the end of each project will conduct a Lessons Learned Meeting. In this meeting we go over what went well on the project, and then dive into what went wrong and what can we do to improve upon these. These results are then shared throughout the organization in a staff meeting and any changes to policies or procedures to remedy the situations that occurred. We at Poli Construction Inc. feel it would be an injustice to the owners/clients if we did not constantly look in the mirror and try to improve ourselves.

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