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Lessons Learned to Become a Future Ready Organization

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Lessons Learned to Become a Future Ready Organization

Jan 31, 2024   |  By
KMI Guest Blogger Michael Sequeira

Lessons Learned are a rich source of knowledge. When applied in the right context they yield a valuable source of information that can become handy first-aid to dealing with some tough water logged situations. So what comes to your mind when someone speaks about Lessons Learned?

The best way to define something is to look at the Gold standard and below are three successful examples that most practitioners quote.


1. US Army (Center for Army Lessons Learned) or CALL leads the Army Lessons Leaned Program (ALLP) and delivers timely and relevant information to resolve gaps, enhance readiness and inform modernization.
2. BP or British Petroleum LLP (Lessons Learnt Program): A key aspect of Lessons Learned is Change Management, Crisis Management and linkable goals to organizational profits; ethical governance and reporting and driving knowledge driven culture. If you study the success factors closely, you would see that it’s the adaptive learning organization that leadership has signed a petition, which makes it the gold standard in Knowledge Management.
3. Hewlett Packard (HP) is one organization that comes to mind when we think of Innovation; where ideas win on merit and a perfect example of a Professional Services firm, where LLP has sustained because of an intensive knowledge sharing culture. It is important to understand that it's not just those winning moments but failures; and it's their Knowledge Capture and Reuse Program that makes tacit to explicit knowledge drive Innovation.

Before we go on to understand the benefits and process for driving a Lessons Learned program, the bigger question is: What are some of the ‘Causes for Failure?'  This is better understood through understanding some of the ‘Behaviors’ - and I present just three below.

1. Nurture Intrapreneurship Allowing anyone who is not directly responsible for P&L to be credited with their insights that contribute to the firm making a profit. This is a tricky especially given global workforce, different cultures and employees of varied experiences we need to establish a framework that rewards teamwork and encourage risk-taking behaviors so even junior employees feel empowered.
2. Develop a questioning mindset: It’s not just the CEO or the leadership but imperative that every field worker or client facing executive asks the question about value-addition, What did we learn from last time and how do we apply it next time are two key checks that the process has to capture in documenting Lessons Learned.
3. Practice Knowledge Harvesting right way: Every Lesson Learned is contextual, yet there are some basic elements such as Problem/Success, Impact, Recommendation, and finally Category, that make this an evolving loop and accessible to a wider network. It's important that the ones using it Rate it and Review it, and it will enhance the quality of the artifact. It’s an agile process and has to be merited that future projects use the knowledgebase and it will evolve.

Below are the some of the Benefits of starting a Lessons Learned Program:

1. Helps reduce organizational spending by not re-inventing the wheel every time you start a new project. We ensure everyone understands and applies these recommendations.
2. Creating a Leaning Environment ensures tacit knowledge is shared, impacting Cost, Quality and Timeliness - three important measures of a service being delivered.
3. Contributes to an organizational culture around after-action reviews, and ensures strong governance around creating long-term business benefits.
Knowledge Dissemination reduces risk of project failures by ensuring any pitfalls that are experiend are shared. The art of storytelling is the key to having everyone's trust involved.
4. Impacts Customer Success from field agents to leadership - everyone benefits from referring to codified knowledge. It's a cyclical process as at times even the customer is involved in sharing feedback, and if analyzed, such feedback can spark innovation.

So what are the key ingredients of a LLP:

1. Mission & Vision alignment is key
2. Focus on building adaptive Learning Organizations
3. Recruit an Organizational OCM Coach
4. Inform Modernization over IT Modernization
5. Drive a sense of urgency with team collaboration


In his Blog on the Lessons Learned Process, author Stan Garfield presents some effective Tools, Methods and further examples of successful LLP Programs.

Dave Snowden says “We need to learn lessons continuously, not just document lessons learned.” It is imperative that in scoping to create a sustainable Lessons Learned System one can forget the focus is on People before Technology.  It is this focus that is key to practice the right behaviors of Nurture Intrapreneurship, Develop a questioning mindset and Practice Knowledge Harvesting right way and more than make it impactful.

Finally, it’s for every organization to realize that the benefits of a LLP can be many however at the core we talk about the five ingredients that make it impactful.

Lastly, ensure Lessons Learned are not a post-mortem review of a project failure but are agile based on everyone in the project team doing retrospectives and meetups through the life cycle of the project from the planning phase that make it an evidence based tool for yielding project output, gaining customer trust and improving future project delivery.

Disclaimer: These are purely my own views and experiences as a seasoned KM practitioner in driving employee engagement and operationalizing the KM strategy through helping employees Connect & Collaborate.

About the Author: Michael Sequeira is an independent consultant based in the UK and is a Featured Guest Blogger for KMI. Mike is passionate about helping organizations discover how KM can be a key differentiator for their business, teams, and clients. If you would like to learn more about his background and get-in-touch, you can connect with him on LinkedIn.



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