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How To Run A Lessons Learned Meeting

To run a Lessons Learned Meeting, you must establish clear goals, involve all key stakeholders, foster open communication, document insights and outcomes, and implement them for future projects and initiatives.

A Lessons Learned Meeting is a type of meeting typically conducted after the completion of a project or an event, where the team collectively reflects on the experiences and knowledge gained throughout the process. The purpose of this meeting is to analyze what worked well, what didn’t, and how things could be improved in future endeavors. It aims to maximize the learning potential from every project, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and knowledge management. Therefore, its results will play a crucial role in reducing mistakes, enhancing efficiency, and increasing effectiveness in future projects.

What is the purpose of a Lessons Learned Meeting?

The purpose of running a lessons-learned meeting as a leader is to identify and analyze the successes, failures, and challenges encountered during a project or task. By assessing what worked well and what can be improved upon, leaders can gather valuable insights and knowledge to apply in future endeavors, promoting continuous growth and improvement for their team.

How To Run A Lessons Learned Meeting: Step-By-Step


Step 1: Preparation,

Start by collating all the vital stakeholders involved in the project for the proposed meeting. Prior to the meeting, it’s crucial to forewarn attendees about the intent of the meeting and any necessary tools or materials they should bring along. Additionally, proposing that attendees take some time to reflect upon their personal experiences and contributions can set a lively tone and spur a more prolific and engaged meeting session.

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Step 2: Setting the Agenda,

The facilitator is responsible for establishing and transparently conveying the meeting’s agenda. This agenda should comprehensively detail the purpose or desired outcomes of the meeting, outline the key discussion points with clarity, and specify the designated time each topic should occupy. Transparent communication encourages effective time management and productivity.

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Step 3: Facilitation,

Kick off the lessons learned meeting by reaffirming the objective and agenda to ensure everyone’s on the same page. An unbiased facilitator is pivotal in encouraging participants to openly share experiences, good and bad, without fear of judgment or blame, ensuring everyone’s perspective is heard while maintaining respectful communication.


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Step 4: Discussion,

Ensure a positive, constructive environment during discussions on agenda items. Encourage participants to share their thoughts, complimenting well-executed tasks and offering improvement suggestions. This balanced approach ensures a comprehensive understanding of performance and facilitates operational growth and harmony within the team.

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Step 5: Generating Lessons Learned,

Based on our conversation, crucial takeaways include successful strategies like proactive communication and well-defined timelines that should be implemented in future projects. Also, it’s essential to avoid previous mishaps such as unclear objectives and lack of stakeholder involvement for better project outcomes.

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Step 6: Documentation,

Carefully document all the essential lessons learned from the meeting in a comprehensive and user-friendly style. This thorough record will function as a crucial reference point for future projects, helping to apply collected insights and knowledge, improving decision-making and boosting overall productivity.

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Step 7: Implementing Lessons Learned,

We must integrate the lessons learned into our standard operating procedures and practices for upcoming projects. These valuable insights can only promote growth if they’re fully understood and effectively implemented. This ensures we continually refine our processes and avoid mishaps in future endeavors.

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Step 8: Follow-up,

After the conclusion of your meeting, it is essential to distribute all pertinent documentation to each and every member who was present. Periodically, make it a point to review these documents to ascertain that any lessons or insights gleaned from the meeting have been appropriately incorporated into the project’s management process. This step ensures continuous improvement and prevents the recurrence of any past mistakes.

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Step 9: Closing The Meeting,

End the meeting with an uplifting note, valuing everyone’s time and input, and stressing the importance of their contributions. The lessons-learned session offers not just closure, but also a clear roadmap for enhancing future projects. A positive, motivational finish guarantees a sense of achievement and boosts morale for future endeavors.

Questions to ask as the leader of the meeting

1. What were the main objectives or goals of the project/task?
Explanation: This question helps to establish a common understanding of what was expected to be achieved.

2. What were the key challenges or obstacles faced during the project/task?
Explanation: Identifying the challenges provides insights into the factors that had an impact on the project’s success or failure.

3. What factors contributed to the success or failure of the project/task?
Explanation: Understanding the factors that influenced the outcome helps in recognizing what worked well and what didn’t, enabling future improvement.

4. What were the critical decisions made during the project/task?
Explanation: Identifying critical decisions helps to evaluate their effectiveness and learn from experiences, ultimately enhancing decision-making skills in the future.

5. Were there any communication issues or gaps within the team or stakeholders?
Explanation: Communication issues often lead to misunderstandings, delays, or errors. Recognizing these areas allows for addressing them and improving collaboration.

6. Did the project/task stay within the predetermined timeline and budget?
Explanation: Evaluating adherence to timelines and budgets helps identify any deviations and highlights potential areas for improvement in planning and resource management.

7. Were there any unexpected risks or external factors that affected the project/task?
Explanation: Unforeseen risks or external factors can significantly impact the outcome. Understanding and preparing for such risks strengthens future project planning.

8. What were the most valuable lessons learned from this project/task?
Explanation: Reflecting on the most valuable lessons helps distill key takeaways for future projects and prevents repeating mistakes or missed opportunities.

9. How well did the team collaborate and work together?
Explanation: Assessing team collaboration provides insights into team dynamics and identifies areas for improvement in fostering a more cohesive and efficient working environment.

10. What recommendations or improvements can be identified for future similar projects/tasks?
Explanation: This question focuses on eliciting concrete suggestions for improvement, fostering continuous learning, and enhancing future project success.

As a leader, when preparing a lessons-learned meeting agenda, start by reviewing the project or task objectives. Identify key topics or areas that need to be discussed, focusing on both successes and challenges. Include time for each team member to share their insights, brainstorm ways to improve, and determine actionable steps for future projects. End the agenda by assigning responsibilities for implementing the lessons learned.

How To Prepare For A Lessons Learned Meeting
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During a lessons-learned meeting, it is important to discuss topics such as project successes and failures, challenges encountered, lessons learned, best practices identified, and recommendations for improvement. Additionally, any issues or risks that impacted the project should be raised and discussed to prevent their recurrence in future endeavors.

See Our Lessons Learned Meeting Template
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Software tools to facilitate a Lessons Learned Meeting

Software helps leaders run lessons-learned meetings by providing a structured platform where team members can share their experiences, insights, and challenges. It enables them to document and organize the lessons learned, track action items, and assign responsibilities. With software, leaders can easily analyze the data, identify patterns, and make informed decisions to improve future projects and prevent similar mistakes from occurring again.

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A Lessons Learned Meeting can be a dynamic tool for improvement if orchestrated effectively. It’s not just about identifying what went wrong but also celebrating successes, acknowledging efforts, and sharing key learnings. Planning is vital – ensure that the attendees are well-prepared, the meeting is structured, and your questions are geared to draw out insightful responses. A conducive atmosphere where everyone feels safe to express their thoughts, ideas, and critiques is essential. Remember, the final and most crucial step of this meeting―to implement the lessons learned and bring tangible change. Innovation is a product of learning, and these meetings could very well be the stepping-stone to your team’s next big success!

Jannik Lindner

I'm Jannik and I write on MeetingFever about the experiences from my career as a founder and team lead.

If you have any questions, please contact me via LinkedIn.

Popular Questions

What is the purpose of a 'Lessons Learned Meeting'?

The purpose of a ‘Lessons Learned Meeting’ is to reflect on the project or task that was undertaken, identify what was successful and what could be improved, and incorporate these learnings in future projects to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

Who should attend a 'Lessons Learned Meeting'?

Team members who were involved in the project or task should attend the ‘Lessons Learned Meeting’. This could include project managers, team members, sponsors, and stakeholders.

When should a 'Lessons Learned Meeting' be conducted?

A ‘Lessons Learned Meeting’ should typically be conducted after the completion of a project or a significant task. However, they can also be useful at major milestones during the project, allowing teams to apply learnings in the same project.

How can information from a 'Lessons Learned Meeting' be utilized?

Information from a ‘Lessons Learned Meeting’ can be documented and stored in an accessible manner to be referred to during future projects. This can help avoid repeating the same mistakes, improve processes, and increase the success rate of projects.

What are the key elements to discuss during a 'Lessons Learned Meeting'?

Key elements to discuss typically include what went right and what went wrong, the effectiveness of the project processes, how challenges were addressed, how risks were managed, and the performance against the project objectives or goals. The aim is to identify valuable insights that will facilitate continual improvement.

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