Project Management Lessons Learned



Book Title: Project Management Lessons Learned: A Continuous Process Improvement Framework
Author: Mel Bost
Publisher: Taylor & Francis / Auerbach Publications
List Price: $84.95
Format: Hardcover, 236 pages
Publication Date: June 2018
ISBN: 1498747779
Reviewer: William H. Doernbach, PMP
Review Date: September 2022



As the author says in his introduction, this is a book about process, project, and lessons learned. He describes in the introduction how project managers can use this book successfully.  This is a deep dive into the Lessons Learned process and provides a template for a continuous improvement framework.

PMI’s sixth edition of the PMBOK defines Lessons Learned as “The knowledge gained during a project which shows how project events were addressed or should be addressed in the future for the purpose of improving future performance”.  Read this book and you will fully comprehend the magnitude of that one sentence.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book is 207 pages and made up of the following contents, which will give you a good idea of the material covered:

List of Figures
List of Tables

Chapter 1: Introduction to Processes and Projects as Key Facilitators of Modern Life
Chapter 2: Understanding and Empowering the Program Management Office (PMO) and Its Influence on Project Lessons Learned
Chapter 3: What Do I Do If My PMO Can’t Execute?
Chapter 4: Avoiding Disruption of the PMO by Accidental Adversaries
Chapter 5: Identifying and Applying Lessons Learned
Chapter 6: What is “Leverage” and How Can Project Managers Use It to Their Advantage
Chapter 7: The Importance of Reflection and Changing Attitudes in Lessons Learned
Chapter 8: The Best Time to Document Project Lessons Learned
Chapter 9: The Actual Cost to Your PMO for Not Capturing and Sharing Project Lessons Learned
Chapter 10: Applying Project Lessons Learned as a Best Practice for Your Organization
Chapter 11: Understanding and Using the New Project Framework
Chapter 12: Recognizing and Using Different Perspectives
Chapter 13: Dilemmas and Choices Faced by Project Managers
Chapter 14: Identifying Valuable Candidates for Project Lessons Learned
Chapter 15: Using the Project Framework to the Benefit of Enterprise Risk Management
Chapter 16: The Tremendous Impact of Role Models on Project Management Leadership
Chapter 17: Facilitating a Closer Connection: Lessons Learned, Risk Management, and Knowledge Management
Chapter 18: Using the Project Framework to Facilitate Technology Development in Projects
Chapter 19: Using Facilitation and Reframing toward Project Process Improvement
Chapter 20: Avoiding Traps Where Structure Influences Behavior
Chapter 21: Lessons Learned from the Application of Organizational Dynamics to the Business Continuation and Emergency Response Environment
Chapter 22: The Sustainability Imperative
Chapter 23: Conclusion
Chapter 24: Summary

Appendix 1: Project Lessons Learned Template
Appendix 2: A Layman’s Guide to Reinforcing and Balancing Loop Behavior and the Resulting Systems Archetypes
Appendix 3: Systems Thinking and Organizational Dynamics Example-Teen Drivers
Appendix 4: Project Lessons Learned from the Panama Canal Experiences
Appendix 5: Capability Maturity Model Background and Levels of Maturity
Appendix 6: Research as a Major Process
Appendix 7: Scenarios Where Lessons Learned Can Positively Impact Performance and Outcomes

Author Index
Subject Index


One highlight for me was the author Mel Bost’s quote from Confucius. Who would imagine a quote from Confucius in a project management book.

By three methods, we may learn wisdom:

  • First, by reflection, which is noblest;
  • Second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and
  • Third by experience, which is the bitterest.


I am quite sure most project managers can relate to the third method.

Lessons learned is about improving the success of projects, the processes, and the quality of those projects. Reducing the mistakes and improving the results, this allows not only yourself but your PMO, organization and future project managers to learn not only by your mistakes but by your successes. Lessons learned should be an ongoing process through the life of the project, each phase and not just at the end of the project as a checklist item during the closing project phase.


To read entire Book Review, click here

How to cite this book review: Doernback, W. H. (2022). Project Management Lessons Learned: A Continuous Process Improvement Framework, book review, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VIII, August. Available online at: https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/pmwj122-Oct2022-Doernbach-Project-Management-Lessons-Learned-Book-Review.pdf

About the Reviewer

William H. Doernbach

Maryland, USA


I am married to a wonderful woman who is a mother, grandmother, and now a great grandmother. Though I have no children of my own I realize how important family is and enjoy the company of my wife’s family and grandchildren. We live in Maryland, outside Washington DC. When we married, we became a blended family, my wife with her two rescue dogs and me with my two rescue cats, we have since subtracted and added from them passing and rescuing others to still having two dogs and three cats, all rescues. I enjoy an active lifestyle having run 38 marathons, as well as hiking, and martial arts.  Before the pandemic I did standup comedy; I love to make people laugh, and hope to pursue standup again.

I have been supporting projects and project management most of my adult life. After graduating high school, I joined the U.S. Marine Corps who trained me not only to be a Marine but to also be an IBM System 360 computer operator. Thus began my career in IT that has lasted for almost 50 years.  During my time in the Marines, I taught myself COBOL and became a COBOL programmer and developer, team lead and project manager as a COBOL SME. One of my last major COBOL projects was as the project manager for the successful Y2K project for a large Federal agency with millions of accounts.

During the 2008 downturn I successfully managed building out a new data center for another large Federal agency, then because of my success I was asked to manage their Network Operation Center.  Now I find myself as a senior program manager in the cyber security area of that same Federal agency, managing contracts, contractors, subcontractors, and procurements. I also give back to the project management community by teaching PMP and CAPM certification courses for the local community college.

Email address: whdoernbach@gmail.com


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