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Lessons Learned but Knowledge Lost

2011 editorial by David Pells on capturing and sharing PM knowledge added to PMWL

21 June 2019 – Dallas, TX, USA – A previously published and potentially still useful paper by David Pells has been added to the PM World Library.  It is titled “Lessons Learned but Knowledge Lost: How to Capture the Experiences, Knowledge and Wisdom of Aging and Retired Project Managers and Professional Leaders’ and was an editorial originally published in August 2011 in the PM World Today eJournal.

According to Pells’ introduction, “ is well known in the United States, Western Europe and Japan that some industries are facing serious shortages of senior program and project managers as more executives and senior managers retire.  This is the case in aerospace, healthcare and medical services, construction, oil & gas and others.  While large industrial organizations adopt various strategies to retain, hire and grow new and more qualified leaders, what are they doing with regards to capturing the experience and knowledge of their older, more experienced and often highly successful program and project managers?  It seems to me that many organizations are just letting extremely valuable resources walk out the door, through downsizing, retirement or even death, with little or no effort to capture the lessons learned, knowledge gained or wisdom from those individuals.  That knowledge and wisdom should be valuable, often reflecting many thousands of dollars invested over many years.

From the perspective of the aging or retired project manager or professional leader, what can he or she do to share some of the knowledge gained over 30, 40 or even 50 years of experience?  Of course, many retiring program and project managers are tired, ready to enjoy some peace and less work, or actually wanting to forget about their years of hard work.  But many others may find retirement boring, undesirable or even unexpected.  For many professional leaders, they are forced into retirement when their terms of office expire, committees end or leadership roles are transferred to others.  I believe there are many individuals who want to be more engaged, who would be willing to share their experiences, and who simply don’t see opportunities to do so.  This article is for those who want to stay or get involved in the project management profession...”

To read this article, visit David Pells’ author showcase in the library at, scroll down to 2011 and click on the title.  Access is free, but you are encouraged to register.