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LOL: Your Project Team Should be Learning Out Loud

LOL - Your Project Team Should be Learning Out Loud - Wellingtone PPM

There’s no reason to laugh. Projects keep failing year after year and your organisation keeps making the same mistakes project after project.

Indeed, there is no reason to laugh when, as a profession, we don’t seem to be able to solve this problem. In fact, looking at the results from The State of Project Management survey ‘lessons learned’ remains one of the most difficult processes to embed within PMOs. What to do? LOL.

Learning out loud or LOL, (of course I was not laughing about this serious matter, what do you take me for?!) is a fascinating concept that can empower your project team to capture and disseminate knowledge more easily. We all secretly know of the challenges of project closure reports and lessons learned logs – they rest in peace in the back of the bottom drawer never to see sunlight again.

We are somewhat great at documenting lessons but sharing them or, more importantly, learning from them? Not so much, I’m afraid. Yet, knowledge is only useful if disseminated and leading to an action. Make no mistake: you are a knowledge worker and it is your responsibility to support a learning organisation.

The concept of learning out loud is associated with the expansion of social platforms and new ways of learning, such as audio books, podcasts, and massive open online courses, and it stresses the importance of sharing your learning with others as it happens, that is, having the courage to share your still half-baked ideas. Think of it as Facebook’s Stories but purposefully intended for sharing your learnings of the day rather than just sharing how funny and cute your cat is.

The power of learning out loud is that it is intended for collaboration by design, inviting others to contribute towards your reflections and enabling the creation of a safe space where new ideas can be tested with real-time feedback and enriched by different perspectives, as suggested by the picture below:

Harold Jarche Finding Perpetual Beta - Wellingtone PPMThis approach is closely related to ‘working out loud’, where you let others know what you are doing and therefore take the role of a reflective practitioner (see Schon), being more conscious of your own work. The combination of both – working out loud and learning out loud – creates a golden cycle of trust amongst practitioners, which benefits all involved. After all, you are all in “draft” mode, supporting each other as work as learning happens. Ultimately, whatever approach you use, you cannot stop learning. “In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.” (Hoffer)

In a time where communities of practice are becoming established as a recognised effective platform for disseminating tacit knowledge in project-organisations, and in a connected world where we can all learn something from each other (see the example of the PMO Value Ring methodology born out of collective learning), why don’t give LOL a try and share with others how it goes? I promise I won’t laugh but I will certainly learn out loud!

By Marisa Silva (The Lucky PM), Wellingtone PPM

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