Project leadership can drive long-term impact in a company’s level of competitiveness along two axes. We discussed the first one last week: as a change agent for corporate evolution and transformation. The second axis deals with ensuring workforce competitiveness. This includes building core competencies in talent management and skills and capacity forecasting. This week, we will discuss Institutional Learning.
The key for any “organism” to survive and thrive over the long-term is the ability to learn and adapt. It’s no different for enterprises. We call the ability of organizations to draw on its collective experience, institutional learning. However, when we say “experience” we don’t mean ancient history. Now the more relevant question is what can we learn from experiences and experiments that are a couple days old or less. How do we capture the results of what just happened and leverage that to figure out what’s about to happen or what we want to happen? Traditional or new adaptive institutional learning doesn’t just happen for free. The key to fostering institutional learning is separating it from the minds of individuals so that it endures as individuals enter and leave the workforce.
That’s where PMO and PPM systems come in to play. PPM systems provide the knowledge base and system of record that tracks and stores what happened. This knowledge base, and the reports that come out of it, will play an important role in supporting executive continuity across changes in leadership. Since the system will outlive the tenure of key executives, it is the place where lessons learned about what worked and what is likely to work is preserved and enhanced daily and it ensures these lessons will not be lost in the many transitions. PMOs should apply simple analytics to the knowledge base to predict, based on recent or relevant history, what strategies to pursue given what they know about things like execution risks for certain types of projects and program inter-dependencies correlated with success or failure.
And, we know about what happens when we don’t learn from history; we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.