How Yma Learns - Growth and Gathering

Julia Pirson
February 10, 2023

Yma had a busy year in 2022. We saw growth of the team, new projects, evaluations, facilitation work and our existing interactions continued apace. As we finished old projects and started new ones, we naturally carried over some of the things we had learnt into the new work. We became aware that while the main learning was retained, some of the smaller pieces of learning were being lost in the noise of a busy and agile office.

Introducing more project management processes and project reviews have already had an impact on how we scope our projects, understanding how much time a project will  take, and how long we spend on engagement, so we thought we would share our  process with you in case it is of value in your organisation too.

This article is the second in a series of three, delving into how Yma organises project work, collects learning, and then reviews it to grow our knowledgebase as an organisation.

Chapter 2 – Growth and gathering

This chapter is about our reviews, which we do after a project finishes, or at milestones for longer projects. The review is split into three steps:

Step 1 – Collate

This step is usually done by our project team. It includes gathering information for the review. For us, it involves collecting the following:

o Learning, decision, and risk logs

o Budgets for expected hours and costs.

o Actual hours and costs

o Feedback from the customer, which sometimes needs to be sought in advance of the review, and sometimes is forthcoming organically.

o Project Initiation Document and any other scoping or contractual information

It helps to send the collated information around to the people involved in the review in enough time for them to read it before the review meeting, so that no one is coming into the meeting cold. This is especially true if this process is being carried out a long time after a project has been completed, or if some of the people in the review weren’t involved in the finer detail.

Step 2 – Review

This stage requires holding a meeting. For large projects it may take several meetings, for smaller ones, it could be just one or two people and a pot of tea. It is helpful, even if you completed a project on your own, to carry out this part of the process with someone else as they can act as a sounding board and help you work through the questions.

The review involves working through a set of questions which we will cover in the next article and looks into whether the work had the effect we intended, and what we can take forward from this project to improve the next one.

Step 3 – Share

The final stage has been, for us, the most challenging. There is absolutely no point working hard to do an in-depth review of a project's strengths and weaknesses if we don’t then share that information with the rest of the team and learn as an organisation how to do better next time.

We are currently trying several ways to do this –

Yma’s Learning Library

This is a simple spreadsheet where learning points from previous reviews are stored. We categorise them according to the project they came from and the topic. We list the issue and the solution. The library is filtered such that we can sort the issues by different stages of a project. So far, we have labels including scoping, engagement, analysis, reporting, governance, and finance.

Team meetings

In addition to the learning library, which is available for any team member to explore, we build learning into our team meetings. As a team we meet once a month, and a portion of that meeting is given over to the project team to highlight the most important lessons we have learnt in the last month.

Finally, there are sharing opportunities like this. We feel our learning process has been so valuable for us, that we would like to share it here in case it can help you too.

We are a young organisation, and we don’t always do things perfectly. If you have any suggestions, comments or would like to seethe tools we use in more detail, please get in touch on Yma@dymani.cymru

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