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Project Review – What I Learned from a Plane Crash

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NTSB“Our investigation will cover three areas: man, machine, and environment.”

The NTSB investigator issued the sobering quote from the scene.  She was being interviewed at the site of a small plane crash.  People lost their lives in the accident, and the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) had a team there to review what happened.

As a project manager, I can learn from the NTSB.  That agency is filled with people dedicated to 3 tasks:

(1)   Investigate significant accidents,

(2)   Develop factual records, and

(3)   Make safety recommendations with one aim— to ensure that such accidents never happen again.

What a great mission statement!  Let’s apply this to a project management discipline: the project review(Your squad may call it a retrospective, look-back, or a post mortem.)

The quote from the NTSB investigator in the field is appropriate.  We review our projects to examine performance in 3 areas: man, machine, and environment.

And, if our project failed or if portions of our project did not perform up to expectations, we take the time to look back, investigate, gather the facts, record them, and make recommendations.  As savvy PMs, our goal is to ensure that those types of mistakes never happen again.

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