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Figure 4.8 Action Plan for Team Learning

Figure 4.8 Action Plan for Team Learning

The team learning cycles and lessons learned can be documented and shared with other project teams. However, the completion of a team's lessons learned marks the ending of one learning cycle and the beginning of another. Based on the learning that has transpired, the team can focus once again on understanding and refraining the problem and then repeat the plan, act, reflect and learn phases again. Figure 4.9 illustrates this concept.

As illustrated in Figure 4.9, an entire project can be viewed as a series of learning cycles. An initial team meeting can examine the initial problem or challenge assigned to the team. During that meeting, the team can develop an initial action plan. Between meetings, the members of the team can then carry out their assigned tasks for testing assumptions or gathering information. At the next meeting, the team can reflect on what it has learned, document the lessons learned, and then start the beginning of a new cycle. Each cycle should be used to challenge the framing of the problem and create new opportunities for learning.

Teams do not always begin and end learning cycles at each meeting. Some learning cycles may take longer, and some can be accomplished in a shorter time if face-to-face meetings are not needed. Redding suggests, however, that three dimensions can be used to assess team learning: speed, depth, and breadth.

• Speed—First, a team should follow a learning cycle approach rather than a traditional, linear approach. Second, speed refers to the number of learning cycles completed. Therefore, the opportunity to learn can be increased if a team can complete more cycles in a given amount of time.

• Depth—Just increasing the number of learning cycles does not guarantee that teams will increase their learning. Subsequently, depth of learning refers to the degree to which a team can deepen its understanding of the project from cycle to cycle. This learning includes challenging the framing of the problem and various assumptions. In short, depth focuses on how well the team is able to dig below the surface in order to get to the root of the problem. Redding suggests that a team can measure depth by asking the following question: Was the team's conception of the project at the end any different from what it was in the beginning? (47)

Figure 4.9 Team Learning Cycles Over the Project Life Cycle

Figure 4.9 Team Learning Cycles Over the Project Life Cycle

SOURCE: The Radical Team Handbook, John Redding, Jossey-Bass 2000. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Breadth—The breadth of learning refers to the impact the project has on the organization. It also focuses on whether the learning that has taken place within the team stays within the team or is shared and used throughout the organization. If a team can uncover complex relationships, it can develop a solution that impacts the whole organization. For example, what originally was thought to be a marketing problem could very well cross several functional or departmental boundaries.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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