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Building a better team with a lessons learned process

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Last of three parts

In this final installment, I want to emphasis the importance of collect­ing open and honest team feedback to make the lessons-learned process most effective. A key component to a successful lessons-learned process is one that enables team members to provide confidential feedback on the team’s performance. Data collected in this manner will enable the team to:

  1. Identify the true lessons learned
  2. Discuss corrective actions so mis­takes are not repeated going
  3. Improve team performance
  4. Identify areas of strength that should be maintained

I have used a Survey Monkey ques­tionnaire with two sections to capture data:

  • The quantitative section. This section consists of a list of team, individual or department quali­ties—leadership, meeting manage­ment, etc.—that are rated from 1 (poor) to 10 (outstanding). The list should reflect information that the team and/or the team leader believes are areas that should be discussed or improved. This data can be easily summarized in an Excel spreadsheet.
  • The narrative section. This section consists of a number of open-ended questions. For example: What five words describe what it was like to be part of this team? What went well/what went poorly? What is the one thing we should never repeat if we have a project like this? Answers to these questions will provide additional insight into how the team is functioning and is often supported by the data gath­ered in the quantitative section,

The data gathered from the ques­tionnaire form the basis for the discus­sion at the lessons-learned meeting. Only team members should be invited to attend that meeting. Their manag­ers or department heads should not attend, as having these individuals present could impact the quality and openness of the discussion (although they could certainly be informed of the meeting results after the meeting).

I have used this lessons-learned process with 20 different teams and find the output very helpful in im­proving team performance.


Written by Guest Writer Larry A. Blankstein, Ph.D. Blankstein is a clinical research scientist with more than 20 years in pharmaceutical and biotechnology drug development and operational execution. He has worked for both CROs and sponsors, enabling him to bring a collaborative approach to partnerships. His experience includes phase I-III studies; project, study budget and CRO management; clinical operations; and CRO selection. He is leading CenterWatch’s newest service, Team Performance Optimization Process (T-POP), offering insights into clinical project teams’ performance with a lessons learned evaluation to develop an action plan for excellence.

This article was reprinted from Volume 22, Issue 09, of The CenterWatch Monthly, an industry leading publication providing hard-hitting, authoritative business and financial coverage of the clinical research space. The Action Items section features short columns  focusing on actionable or how-to advice from clinical trial professionals. To submit an Action Item, please contact editorial@centerwatch.comSubscribe >>

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