The international adventures and pitfalls of a global project manager can make great storytelling for your team campfire. Then why is it that most team members would prefer that you put out the flame? Why not keep the fire burning? When the team has celebrated the successful conclusion of the project, they’re ready to head home and re-energize for the next adventure. Having to perform a post-mortem and share lessons learned is not always an enticing prospect. It can also be difficult to share failures or lessons learned due to cultural perceptions and communication styles. Yet if you succeed in developing an international dialogue, you can ignite new ideas and fire up best practices around the world.
While many organizations perform post-launch audits to evaluate lessons learned, it has been my experience that most organizations do not have a vehicle or process for sharing these best practices or lessons learned with internal teams. At best, you may find a report that is shared with core team members and then filed away deep in the repository of past projects. How often is the exchange of international best practices and lessons learned really used to enhance future project processes? More often, organizations may face the same burning issues on the next global project since they were not addressed after the last one. ¡Ay caramba!
In order to ensure continuous learning and operational excellence, it is critical to discuss issues, identify new solutions, and integrate new practices throughout the project lifecycle. This is where it is important to create a collaborative environment for reviewing and identifying project issues. Make sure to create a global exchange where you can celebrate past achievements while trouble-shooting issues that can be transformed into future solutions and successes.
Consider past lessons learned and future best practices that will optimize performance inside your organization. Develop a worldwide forum that allows the team to evaluate and discuss the project process, identify common issues, and propose both global and local solutions. This review meeting should engage all country team members through virtual and live dialogue. Then make sure to ask the following questions:
1) Does your current planning framework and process incorporate international needs?
2) Does your current communication strategy and process enable global and local teams?
3) Are cross-functional teams aligned and able to execute in every geographic location?
4) Do you have effective metrics for measuring global and local results?
These questions may lead you to a review of current gaps in the international project lifecycle process. So gather your global team and ignite the conversation that will streamline communications, optimize operational efficiency, and ensure team success worldwide. Then you’ll be ready for the next cross-cultural adventure: