Recently I have spoken to a colleague of mine. We have discussed if the project must be reviewed after it is completed. My colleague insisted that reviewing a project is lost time that will not serve anyone except the project leader. No one reads these reviews, he stated. Therefore, they are useless, and other similar phrases were his position on the subject.
And unfortunately, my colleague is not alone. Living in a fast-paced environment, we often finish a project because we must move to the next one waiting in the queue. But making this, we often face the same or similar issues even with the next project, the next one, and the next one. Nothing new, but according to PMI published research back in 2020, as much as sixty-three percent of project managers find different excuses to skip the review step of the project, finding various “important” reasons. That often slows down, following projects in the queue, by missing to learn from the experience gained during a particular project by its completion.
That is why I decided to do short research by myself, asking project managers about the most common excuses to skip the review step of the projects they led.
Down here is the list I have created from their answers
The most apparent excuse is time. Not enough time is a common excuse for every one of us when not ready with something. We use it to explain why we have failed a task, missed a deadline, etc. Nothing new, but still a big problem. Why is this excuse so damaging. Suppose you do not have time to complete a process until its end and take out the positives. In that case, this grows other questions if the project has covered everything it had to and if you haven’t missed an important detail that may have positively impacted the final result.
The second excuse is always connected with stress. When a project has been extended, exhausting, and squished like a lemon, you do not want to remember it again. However, going again through the project stages, looking at the results and the information can make you find something inconvenient that you may try not to remember. If that is the case, the less time you invest in digging again into the project, the lower the stress level you will generate.
And this doesn’t seem right again because if you do not make any changes in your next project, you will only repeat the situation based on the stress you have experienced during the current project. Is that really needed, or maybe you can overcome the tension now and move ahead more confidently with the next project.
CAN’T ADMIT MISTAKES
A third excuse I have heard often was that if the project manager admits mistakes made during the project completion cycle publically that can lower the trust in him for the next set of project he will, have to lead. Many people find it painful to admit mistakes. It is often resulted by our egos, who try to save our confidence. But admitting mistakes does not make us weaker; it makes us look vulnerable and, at the same time, more human. Most of our mistakes during project completion are already seen by others. Maybe some of them will be shared with us, but others will wait for us to share them and show our level of humanity. Remember, a shared mistake is half a mistake. People are ready to forgive and forget it after seeing that you act as an ordinary person, instead as a superhuman with a powerful super ego.
STORED IN MEMORY
Did you hear that one? Everything is in my head. I will have to invest so much time to pull it out and structure it as a report. Why should I do this? I know how things went, and I can repeat them the next time. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, it is the following common mistake. Everything that is stored in our heads can be lost. Our brain operates only with information that is common for the situation we are in. Holding something in our heads is not a good idea because we limit what we have achieved only to our understanding and thinking. Writing what we have achieved is a good starting point for us or someone else to upgrade what we have performed at the right moment in time. Everything else we do is just a limitation to others and ourselves for future upgrades and successes.
IT WENT WELL
The project went so well that no one will ever ask us for details of what happened. They will only discuss the positive output we have created by completing it. Again a terrible mistake a project leader can make, thinking the production is the only thing stakeholders and project results users carry about. On the contrary, if the project has been an enormous success, it will be a winning point for the project leader at this particular moment in time. Describing the project, reviewing the outcomes, and storing that information in the archives creates a pool of “best practices” and will connect the project leader name with the project success and outcomes every time someone turns to that project review. It is like long-term advertising of your brand.
PROJECT IS UNIQUE
Maybe you have finished that unique project that was a one-time activity and will never happen again(or at least you think so), and that project was so impressive that approach, practices, and outputs cannot be copied to another project. It is not worth investing time in reviewing something so unique that only you care about it.
Remember, there is no such thing as a unique project. Unique is only the mindset you put in while working on the project. Everything else is an excellent old result pipeline, created long before you have started completing tasks. What may look unique to you now can turn into doing things in the company you are working in in a shorter period. It is always a good idea to review what you think is a good result. It may help the company redefine how you have been finishing projects and help you upgrade knowledge, skills, and expertise.
NO ONE WILL READ
The fast-paced world we live in has created a state of urgency for everyone. We often miss reading documents sent to us and come unprepared for meetings. We often need to speak up without having complete information. In turbulent and speeding times like today, we need to save as much time as we can of others. People do not care much about a review of something that is already done. There is no reason to write something that no one will read. But you will be surprised how many people are waiting to read your report. Stakeholders and project sponsors want to see a short review of what they have given you their trust and resources for. Some colleagues are eager to improve their knowledge and skills in project management but do not want to waste time with theoretical concepts but learn from the practical experience and result from someone capable has achieved.
Not surprising, but still overlooked by project managers as an opportunity to turn from a good project manager into an informal teacher and source of stable and trusted information.
No matter the level of experience we have as project managers, we sometimes miss some crucial elements that may have a massive impact on our unique positioning as trusted professionals and advisors. Overlooking the review part of the project is a common mistake that can make us from winning to losing sides in a connection. The hardest part of a project is not the project cycle of completion, but the part when you have to give others the project’s outcomes in a straightforward and structured way and help them become better professionals sharing the essence of your lessons. So. Again: How do you think now about the project review?