How Yma Learns - Harvesting Knowledge

Julia Pirson
February 17, 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 third in a series of three, delving into how Yma organises project work, collects learning, and then reviews it to grow our knowledge base as an organisation.

Chapter 3 – Harvesting the knowledge

The review meeting is the central event in our project review process.  It is to be held in an open, supportive, and honest way. It is important to remember to check in at the start of the meeting and learn where our colleagues are at that day. Reviews can be challenging, especially if a project has not gone well, but the team must approach it from a place of curiosity and avoid blame or shaming at all costs. No one can have an open and honest conversation if they are afraid.

Here is what we ask during a review and what it means to us.

Question 1. Did we do what we said we would do?

We review what we delivered against the project initiation documents and discuss if we felt we gave our customer what they wanted or needed.

Question 2 – Did we deliver on time comfortably?

We are a small team, working around part time hours, school holidays and all the things that come with busy lives. This question is about whether we are leaving ourselves enough time and space to complete work comfortably.

Question 3 – Did it have the external impact we hoped it would have?

This is where we discuss feedback from the customer. We are a social enterprise, and we want our work to contribute to our goals. We talk about how we could have had a bigger impact, and whether this project outcome was as expected.

Question 4 – What impact did it have on Yma?

Sometimes, on review we realise how much we learnt personally during a project. Often these lessons are then applicable to future work, and appreciating this value is important.

Question 5 - Were costs and hours projections accurate?

While we are good at estimating our costs, we sometimes struggle to predict our hours accurately. This is because at the start of a project it seems obvious who will do what functions. When it comes to it, other team members may have more capacity or better matched skills or interests. We also take a great deal of pride in our outputs and may spend a little longer polishing our deliverables. This is a work in progress and we can see how our predictions are improving for every project we do.

Question 6 – What learning will be shared in the library?

This is a table, where the learning points from the learning log can be recorded. Not all the learning points are going to be relevant to other projects, and some learning points can be consolidated.

Question 7 – How will we share this learning and this project more widely?

Now we decide how we want to spread the news about our recent work. Sharing our work means that others can see what Yma is capable of and this formalises our intention to share our achievements.

Maya Angelou told us:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

At Yma we work by those guiding words, and will always seek new ideas to help us achieve our goal of providing the opportunities for exceptional care for the people of Wales, now and for future generations.  

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

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