Friday 1 April 2011

Routing the lessons

Imagine an organisation, busy reviewing activity and coming up with lots of learning points - "we learned that we have to address this sort of situation with this sort of contract; we learned that there is a better way to apply paint, we learned that this client loved this sort of presentation".

Imagine each learning point leading to a suggested action - "we must update the contracting guidelines, we must write up a how-to guide for the new painting methodology, we must annotate the client database, and put a copy of the powerpoint in there".

How do the learning points get to the people who need to take the action?

One great way to do this is through an automated system, where posting the lesson in a database or on a wiki leads to an automatic alert to the right person.

A complementary, way to address this is to have a group looking at the lessons. They look at the new lessons, check the actions are assigned to the right people, and make sure these people are notified. They look at "open" lessons and see why the actions haven't been closed out. They look for the recurrent lessons, and the trends that point to something more systemic which needs to be addressed.

Increasingly we are seeing a role for this group. The Army calles them "Lessons Cells". An oil company calls them "lessons review meetings". Another company assigns this role to the central projects group. An engineering company holds a meeting of the functional cheifs, to do the review.

They act as a clearing house for learning, and together with the automated technology, make sure that new lessons learned are as quickly as possible embedded into the process and procedures and checklists and guidance; the documents that define "the way we work".


gerald said...

Hi, Nick,
how is the buy-in of the task receivers assured, if they have not been part of the process deriving the lessons?
Doesn't the change implementation driver need to be part of review board?

Nick Milton said...

the lesson receiver may be the other side of the world. The lesson receiver always has option of rining up lesson originator to ask more details. Also they have trust in teh system. All the examples are from orgs where the change is embedded, so there is no longer any "change implementation driver." You may need a different approach in the early stages.

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