6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 4.4 Manage Project Knowledge: Tools & Techniques


The Process I am describing today has its origins in the “lessons learned” exercise traditionally done in project management at the end of a project.   However, due to the influence of agile project management methodologies, the project management community gradually created the new “best practice” of creating a lessons learned register during the course of a project.   That is what this process is about, although it is not limited to the production of a lessons learned register.   Let’s see what tools and techniques can be used to take the knowledge, both

  • explicit knowledge in the form of things learned on a project that can be written down in places like the lessons learned register
  • tacit knowledge in the form of experience and insights gained

This latter form of knowledge is internal to the person holding it and it can only be shared through conversations and interactions with people.    The way these two types of knowledge are managed are different, as can be seen in the paragraphs below.

4.4.2 Manage Project Knowledge:  Tools & Techniques

4.4.2.1 Expert Judgment

You should consider gaining knowledge from individuals or groups with specialized training or expertise, such as those with training in knowledge management, information management, organization  learning, or other topics.

4.4.2.2 Knowledge Management

You need to connect people so that they can share tacit knowledge and then integrate the knowledge of diverse team members.   Here are some examples of ways to share tacit knowledge gained on a project.

  • Networking–in particular social networking on an intranet system like Sharepoint
  • Communities of practice–like monthly meetings of the local chapter of the Project Management Institute
  • Discussion forms such as focus groups–like “lunch and learn” forums held by many companies

There are many other examples given on p. 103 of the PMBOK Guide.

4.4.2.3  Information Management

Information management tools (such as a Project Management Information System or PMIS like Microsoft Project) can be used to create documents that can share more explicit forms of knowledge gained on a project.

These documents can codify explicit knowledge so that a person trying to solve a particular problem can type in a search word or phrase to find relevant entries in the documents.

4.4.2.4  Interpersonal and team skills

The sharing of knowledge first requires setting up a relationship of trust between the people sharing that knowledge.   That is why interpersonal and team-building skills are useful because they can help create and nurture those relationships based on trust.   Some of these skills are:

  • Active listening–acknowledging, clarifying and confirming, understanding, and removing barriers that adversely affect comprehension
  • Facilitation–effectively guiding a group event to a successful decision, solution, or conclusion.    A facilitator ensures
    • effective participation
    • mutual understanding between participants
    • consideration of all contributions
    • the achievement of full buy-in or consensus regarding any conclusions or results achieved by the group, and
    • the taking of appropriate actions to follow-up on those conclusions or results
  • Leadership–because a project is done by people, a leader demonstrates skills that guide, motivate and direct the people on a project team.  Such skills include:
    • Negotiation
    • Resilience
    • Communication
    • Problem solving
    • Critical thinking
    • Interpersonal skills
  • Networking–interacting with others to exchange information and develop contacts in order to solve problems, influence actions of stakeholders, and to increase stakeholder support for the project
  • Political awareness–engaging stakeholders appropriate in order to maintain their support throughout the project

So you can see that, where the origin of this process is the lessons learned register (and indeed that is one of the main outputs of the process), it is much larger and includes the larger set of relationships the people on a team have to their organization , their industry, their profession, and to society itself.

The next post will cover the outputs of this process.

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