Learning Lessons from Projects

Early in 2018 I met up with Ken Burrell from http://www.pragmaticpmo.com/ . He told me he was going to write a book. I said it sounded like a great idea, and that was that. Throughout my career, I’ve spoken to lots of people who are going to write a book. They all have great ideas. Some have even put the ideas down on paper. Very few actually end up with a finished article. Whilst I liked the premise of Ken’s book, I was not really expecting to hear anything about it again.

Reader, How wrong I was.

Ken was passionate about sharing his experience of learning lessons from projects and project managers. He wanted to write something that was accessible, that blended academic theory with practice, and was actionable by even small project and PMO teams with scarce resources. More than that though, Ken wanted to breathe fresh life and passion into learning lessons and encourage practitioners to take a fresh look at an often underutilized discipline. Ken researched and wrote, wrote and researched, and came back to me asking if I would mind reading an early draft.

Reader, I loved it.

The book was full of energy and passion. This was not simply a regurgitation of what you may have read in PMBoK, this was… real. I was taken on a journey though theoretical models interlaced with practical examples. I learned about Explicit vs Tacit knowledge through lessons leaned from brewing beer. I learned about the importance of story-telling through Ken’s painstaking journey to build his very own mandolin.

It was also practical. The book resources included step-by-step instructions for setting up a lessons-learned repository on SharePoint and examples of the talking head videos that Ken advocates.

Ken asked if he could include my Call3 concept for sharing lessons in his book and I readily agreed. I thought the Call3, a process that ensures Project Managers get access to raw and honest lessons from previous projects, aligned well with everything Ken was evangelizing. Not only did he end up including it, but he got me to write an afterword section in his book too!. One lesson I have learned from my engagements with Ken is that he can be very persuasive!

Ken has since gone on to publish his book and I highly recommend it. You can find it on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions:

Learning Lessons from Projects: How it works, why it goes wrong, and how you can do it better - Ken Burrell

Learning Lessons from Projects: How it works, why it goes wrong, and how you can do it better - Ken Burrell

Successes and Scars Shared

Whilst I’m giving Ken a shout-out, it would be remiss of me not to mention a series of video-blogs he runs called Successes and Scars Shared. In the series he interviews experienced project professionals and encourages them to share one ‘scar’ and one ‘success’ from their career. He then goes on to ask his guests to reflect on the lessons that could be derived from their experience. Its well worth a look and there’s plenty to learn for experienced project people and for those who are new to the profession. You can find the full series here: http://bit.ly/SSSVideos

I was interviewed by Ken back in November. If you want to hear what I think about forecasting with agile teams, and how I once managed to lose a few members of my project team on a sandbank in the North Sea, then take a look at the video below:


Writing your own book

They say that everyone has a book inside of them. But it doesn’t do any good sitting there festering. If you are considering writing your own book for the Projects and PMO community I’d love to hear about it. If you are looking for advice about writing your own PMO or Project Management book, then Ken has thoughtfully (and unsuprisingly) shared his very own lessons learned here: http://www.pragmaticpmo.com/lessons-learned-writing-a-book-about-learning-lessons/