• Motivate: reward sharing and reusing lessons learned.
  • Supply: capture lessons learned.
  • Analyze: select best lessons learned.
  • Codify: categorize and tag selected lessons learned.
  • Disseminate: send out lessons learned in email messages.
  • Demand: provide a query capability for the lessons learned database.
  • Act: reuse lessons learned.
  1. After Action Review was developed in the US Army and is now widely used to capture lessons learned, both during and after an activity or project.
  2. Peer Assist is a tool developed at BP-Amoco used to learn from the experiences of others before embarking on an activity or project.
  3. Retrospect is a structured and facilitated knowledge capture meeting at the end of a project, involving as many of the project team as possible. It is a quick and effective way of capturing knowledge before a team disbands. If a member from the next team to undertake a similar business challenge participates in the discussion, a retrospect for one team can serve as a peer assist for the next one.
  1. NASA
  2. Project Smart
  3. Transport Airplane Accidents
  4. Fast Company
  5. NRC: Japan Earthquake
  6. Department of Energy
  7. US Army
  8. US Department of Transportation
  9. Air University
  10. HP Knowledge Capture and Reuse (KCR) Process (win/loss and close-out lessons learned):
  • Capture material at the right level of abstraction that’s not too difficult.
  • Get people to record things as they do them, and then index the resulting material so the raw material is interpreted by those who created it.
  • Allow people to talk about failure by allowing them to avoid any attribution of blame.
  • Make capture continuous and a part of the job, not a post-job after-action review.
  1. Initiation: Some event that triggers the need to capture a lesson.
  2. Recognition: The awareness by the organization that the event in question contains a lesson.
  3. Capture: Gathering the essential facts, stories, and other elements that will create the lesson.
  4. Validation: How do we know that the lesson we want to preserve is valid and correct?
  5. Scoping: Determining how broad or narrow the applicability of this lesson is to the organization.
  6. Storage: How will this lesson be preserved so that it can be accessed in the future?
  7. Dissemination: Getting the lesson into the hands (and heads!) of the people in the organization who need to know it.
  8. Institutionalization: This is probably the most crucial stage. How do we ensure that the lesson is embedded so deeply in the organization that we can say that it has been learned? What does it even mean for a company to learn something?
  9. Maintenance: Some lessons are context or time dependent. The usefulness of a lesson might fade over time, and today’s best practice could even become tomorrow’s disaster as situations change. So how do we ensure that lessons remain fresh and relevant? How do we guarantee that we have not only organizational memory but also organizational forgetting where appropriate?
  • What’s wrong with Lessons Learned?
  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3
  4. Part 4
  • Getting Lessons Learned Right
  1. Part 1 (LinkedIn version)
  2. Part 2

Lessons Learned by Dan Fogelberg



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Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield


Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/