Learning in project teams

I’ve been thinking more about learning in projects and the infrastructure & processes to enable more effective learning and knowledge exchange and development. I see the experience of project working as the building block for ‘deep’ collaborative working. Learning in projects operates broadly on three levels:

Individual: often focused on developing new skills and knowledge but should also include reflecting on new experiences (of being a member of this project team, of dealing with that customer situation).Obvious individual learning is often captured through organisational performance management/ appraisal systems or simply becomes part of the individuals portfolio of competences. But, as Jay Cross and Keith Sawyer recently identified, learning is a social and collaborative activity requiring some form of reflection with and through peers

Team: can be seen as a collaborative and reflective process of:
– exploration: the deliberate search of similar and related experiences & knowledge from within and outside the team. Dialogue here should be open and constructive “yes and …” rather than “yes but …”
– analysis: fact-based analysis, testing potential options. I’ve found using a structured process works best here
– capture: documenting decisions, processes, meetings using photos, recordings, wikis, blogs and (even) reports
– do: test, review, reflect and get things done
Collaborative learning here has a twin function of (a) working through together how project objectives can be best achieved and (b) reflecting together on what the joint experience of the project is identifiable and transferable to other teams/ projects for further testing and so ultimately to co-create model processes, procedures and models that generate organisational learning

Organisational: where new/ emerged capabilities are transfered and absorbed as organisational practices – often incremental changes of continuous improvement.

I’m intending to write further posts on specific tools to build on the learning potential of projects and project teams.

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