Friday 18 May 2012

The role of the Lessons Learned Integrator The Lessons Learned system is well embedded in the United States Army (see for example this excellent analysis from Nancy Dixon). It works well, and forms a model from which industry can learn, especially when it comes to assigning knowledge management roles within the business.

 This article describes some of the components of the US Army learning system
"Because of the uncertainties and diversity of the modern battlefield, the Army is constantly learning and adapting its doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures. The various mechanisms that drive this change in a coordinated and coherent process fall within an umbrella concept known as "lessons learned."  The Combined Arms Center (CAC) is the Army's coordinator for the collection and integration of lessons into Army procedures and doctrine. CAC facilitates real-time collection, analysis, and archiving of lessons learned information across the Army through a variety of techniques. These include: 
  • Formal efforts, such as embedded liaison officer cells within forward-deployed units, liaison cells at the Army's various training centers, integration analysts stationed at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) centers and schools and embedded within operational unit headquarters at home station, and specialized collection and analysis teams that focus on specific hot topics and mobile training teams. 
  • Informal efforts such as collecting, analyzing, and archiving published after action reviews and conducting individual interviews with selected Soldiers returning from the operational theatre.
The description above mentions processes such as After Action Reviews and Learning Interviews, but also mentions  different roles with accountability for the lessons process, such as embedded cells within forward-deployed units. One of the key roles in this learning process is the role of the Lessons Learned Integrator, or L2I. 
The Centre for Army Lessons Learned (part of CAC) is deploying Lessons Learned Integrators in operational units and in other units such as training schools and doctrine centres. These L2I analysts gather lessons learned, research requests for information (RFI), and support the unit within which they are situated. They act as conduits for lessons in and out of the units. You can find various role descriptions for this post (e.g. this one), which suggest that the role primarily involves
  • Collecting, reporting, and disseminating lessons from the host unit
  • Monitoring lessons learned and other new knowledge from elsewhere, assessing it for relevance to the host unit, and "pushing" it to the correct people
  • Initiating actions that lead to change recommendations
  • Locally supporting the "Request for Information" process, where soldiers can make requests for information from the Centre for Army Lessons Learned.
In many of the support centres, the L2I analyst also has a role in developing doctrine, as described here

  • The L2I analyst can derive information from a variety of sources: unit after-action reports; tactics, techniques, and procedures used by units in and returning from theater; Soldier observations/submissions to the Engineer School; and requests for information. 
  • This information is used to conduct doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities gap analyses and to determine solutions

As ever, Industry can learn from the Military.

Too often we see "Lessons Learned systems" which seem to have no roles or accountabilities assigned to them. The assumption seems to be that "everyone is responsible for lessons learned", which quickly becomes "someone else will do it", then "nobody is responsible". The Army avoid this by identifying specific pivotal roles for identification, communication and analysis of Lessons, and for identifying what needs to be done as a result.

If you want your Lessons Learned system to really work, then you will need roles similar to the L2I in your operation units.

1 comment:

Détective Privé said...

It's very interesting, it helps develop the imagination of the soldiers.

Détective Privé/Intelligence Economique

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