Lessons learned only matter when
Lessons learned only matter when someone else takes the results and does something with it! My former LOC students would be thrilled to hear this.
At today's SIKM Leaders monthly discussion, Steve Wieneke of GM talked about Lessons Learned. I really liked his methodical approach to the topic and the difficulties organizations have had with turning the idea of lessons learned into something useful for the organization. He differentiates between lessons learned which result from failure and the correction, and learnings which result from things gone well and valued for the success. Both things need to be part of the process for benefit of the organization.
And for the organization, lessons can only be useful when someone other than the person or team who had the experience can take that experience and do something with it in their situation.
Steve advocates moving away from the typical lessons learned database (unused, focused on failures) to a more transparent "visible learning process" that supports both learning from failures and successes. It is focused on discussions, rather than a database of incidents. He didn't talk about how this would be implemented, but it could work in standard discussion forums, or it could work in the more current technologies of web2.0.
Steve Wieneke has documented some of this in a chapter of Tom Young's Knowledge Management for Services, Operations and Manufacturing.
Due to the seemingly-unconventional approach to lessons learned, I was reminded of Dave Snowden's recent article in the July/August 2008 KM World, Everything is fragmented - Building CoPs for knowledge flow. In this one, he recommends tossing out the typical view of the Community of Practice (discussion groups) for blogging which will help the real knowledge flow blossom.
Update: Fixed the spelling of Steve's last name. It's Wieneke.
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