Improving project learning: a new approach to lessons learnt

2014-05-16T12:54:38Z (GMT) by Paul Fuller Andrew Dainty Tony Thorpe
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to report on research which has developed a new approach to capturing project-based learning. Design/methodology/approach – Action research was employed as part of a longitudinal single organization case study. Findings – Project learning processes can be improved by using an event-based approach to project knowledge integration that propagates duetero-learning. The approach developed generates outputs that codify lessons learnt and promotes measurement of benefits. The event and the outputs, in effect, take the form of “boundary objects” which act as a bridge or means of translation between the participants, as well as to those who will use the learning to improve their own project practice on other projects. Research limitations/implications – The approach has only been applied within a single support services organization, but could provide a way of overcoming the considerable difficulties inherent in capturing lessons learned within project-based environments. Practical implications – The approach helps to overcome the key issues of obtaining management and staff buy-in, and dealing with the time pressures that exist in project-based environments. The outputs can be applied to encourage learning across projects and wider communities resulting in improved practice. Originality/value – The process uses the concept of boundary objects to explain how some of the problems arising when complex abstract concepts are involved can be overcome, particularly in increasing understanding and buy-in from the actors involved. Viewing learning events as boundary objects sees them as mediating information across project boundaries, between project practitioners and across business units. The event process can be adapted for a variety of scenarios and used by an organization or group of organizations to improve and apply learning more successfully.