Friday 14 May 2010

How many lessons?

Gold top 10 winner
Originally uploaded by sam_churchill
There seems to be a tendency to want to limit learning. I am reviewing a project at the moment, where the team decided to collect and discuss on their Top 10 lessons (actually 20, as they captured the Top 10 engineering lessons, and the Top 10 project management lessons). It puzzles me why they chose 10 lessons. This was a multi billion dollar project, and I bet they learned more than 10 things. So why restrict it to 10? Why not 12? What if there were 15 lessons - would we not record numbers 11 through 15?

Perhaps it was to avoid overloading the organisation? This may be a worthy aim, but no organisation I know of is overloaded by learning. Generally there is a dearth of good knowledge available, and people are very pleased to receive good helpful material. OK, I can understand restricting to 10 lessons if the lessons are turgid and boring and not very helpful, but that can’t be our aim, surely? I blogged recently about the project which generated 700 lessons, of which 400 were reused. What would have happened if they had restricted themselves to 10? 390 opportunities for learning and improvement would never have been re-used. 97.5% of the value would have been lost.

Perhaps it was to avoid overloading themselves. Perhaps they thought that documenting these lessons was not really worth doing and that it would a lot of effort, so lets high grade only the most important lessons. This may be a more likely scenario. But I think that's an unhelpful attitude. Why not identify all the valuable and reusable learning points, whether it's 9, 15, 19, 29? Why not document them all?

Why stop at 10?

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