We all know we need to learn from the past so we don’t repeat it, but what if sometimes we do? As construction professionals, it is important for us to learn from one project to the next and repeat the good while correcting the mistakes. A good “lessons learned” process is one that seeks out all aspects of lessons whether they are directly related to services delivered or to interactions with clients. We were recently asked in a proposal to identify three mistakes made on past projects and describe what we learned and how we have applied that knowledge so as not to repeat them again.

Our process for lessons-learned accumulation, tracking, and dissemination is viewed as a continuous learning cycle. When we begin a new project, our first task is to search our lessons- learned database for past projects and clients that are similar. At our project kickoff meeting, we present those lessons to the new team. Since all work is a learning process, over the course of the project, at weekly job meetings, we are encouraged to present a lesson and submit to our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for review, clarification, and logging into our system. We have over 20 SMEs related to all aspects of construction, specific markets, and specific services. Finally, at the completion of a project, we host a joint meeting with the owner, design team, and our own team to review our collective lessons learned. We review everyone’s role on the project and talk about the good and the not-so-good.

Over time, you might be amazed that thousands of lessons accumulate over the course of many projects. A continuous knowledge cycle can help us all avoid the sins of the past and deliver top-notch projects, with a look toward more lessons to come.