Thursday 2 February 2012

Lessons not learned

but you never learn When we do knowledge management assessments of various organisations, we always look at the effectiveness of their learning processes, and also how well these processes are embedded into their work structure.

Many companies can point to places in their project work process where Lessons Capture meetings are mandated, or recommended, or scheduled.  We have not yet assessed any company where they schedule, mandate or recommend a step within the project process where existing lessons are reviewed and incorporated.

That’s a strike rate of zero. None of these companies have embedded a step for learning from others.
Here’s a recent example.

Me – “Do you have lesson-learning embedded in work process?”

Company – “Yes, lets look at the project process – here you go; a lessons capture step built in here, and another here, and another recommended here"

Me – “Very good. Lots of steps where you Identify lessons. Now where is the step where you review lessons from others, and re-use lessons?”

Company – “Um, we don’t have a process for that”

There really is little point in capturing lessons, if you don’t do anything with them, and no point in embedding lessons capture if you don’t embed lessons review. That would be like writing schoolbooks which nobody will ever read.


Jeremy Sluyters said...

Nick, you say that no organization has a lessons learned review with others? None you have seen? That is sad! I will be the first to admit that my org doesn't have great programs, but I thought there would be good examples out there. What would your ideal process look like?

Nick Milton said...

That's not what I meant to say, Jeremy, sorry.

Most companies do some sort of learning from others. None of the companies *we have assessed* have *embedded a learning step* into their standard process, despite the fact that they *have* embedded a learning capture step.

I know of some companies who do have this learning step embedded into process, but these are few, and not in our assessment dataset

I would be interested to know how your company has embedded this learning step into their standard process?

Jeremy sluyters said...

We don't do a great job at either! But we are building both aspects into our project management and execution processes.

Nick Milton said...

Good for you Jeremy, well done

Pete Bond said...

Why not embed at job or role description level and roll in with appraisal performance review? I recommend this to clients. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It depends on prevalent attitudes and management/leadership styles and how well the appraisal system is adhered to.

Nick Milton said...

That's sort of what we do Pete - we embed a process step within the project management structure, we introduce the Project Knowledge Manager role, and we introduce a Project Knowledge Management plan as an organising/governance document.

We embed it in the same way that you would embed risk management in a project - a process step, a plan, an owner, and then involvement of the project team in the risk management process.

If management will endorse this, then it always works.

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