Learning what you don't know

'As we know, there are known knowns

There are things we know we know

We also know there are known unknowns

That is to say we know there are some things we do not know

But there are also unknown unknowns

The ones we don't know we don't know'

Donald Rumsfeld (Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing).

That is one crazy set of words but actually there is a lot of sense in the whole thing. Here you are at the end of the project. It has been a success or, at the very least, is has not been a complete failure, and you are about to head off to the next project. But wait, do you really honestly know everything? Do you know what you don't know? Well of course you don't, you can't possibly. So don't fool yourself that you do!

So what do you do about it? Well what you do about it is to do something about it - now is the time to conduct a retrospective of your project, a review, a considered and open activity that will allow you the opportunity to learn what it is you don't yet know.

Just as at the start of the project, remember 'a brand shiny new project… at a point in time that is full of peace and love and general wellbeing between all parties involved', well the end of the project is a special time as well. It is a time when project team members are far more likely to talk to you openly, equally and honestly. Therefore it is a time you should really focus some effort on to learn how to be more effective (and even more 'Productively Lazy') next time around.