Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Two types of learning action

There are generally two types of actions that come out of lessons learned reviews.

The first is an action to notify others, so that they can become aware of the lessons.
The second is an action to make a change to process, policy or procedure as a result of the lessons.

For example, a project may have identified a problem with a particular type of equipment from a particular supplier. Let’s call it the XMV valve seal, from XMF ltd. The first action would be to notify all operations that there is a problem with the XFS Vale seal. Any operation using this seal should consider themselves notified, and if they are smart, they will check these valve seals, see if they have the same problem, and change them. The second action would be to remove the XFS value seal from the list of preferred equipment, and to request a response from the XMF ltd concerning how they will address the problem.

 Both of these actions are probably needed, but it is only the second type of action that will avoid the problem recurring in future.

 Unfortunately most of the lesson-learning systems we are asked to review never deal with the second type of action – only the first.


kmonadollaraday said...

Nick - a question. The type of lesson learned you cite here is fairly specific and easily generalizable and thus fed into policy or standards. In the field I work in (international development aid) a lesson from one experience might or might not be directly transferable to another context - it might be relevant for others to know about it so they can consider how it would apply to their work, but I would be cautious about changing policy and procedure based on a single experience. Any tips on how to ensure knowledge is reused and errors are not repeated in this type of context?

Nick Milton said...

In your context, Ian, you do not update policies and procedures, but you update the guidance documents, the tips and hints, and the "library of options".

If you do not sythesise the lessons, then over time the lesons build up, and build up, and build up, until there are too many to bother with.

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