Monday, 29 May 2017

A key lesson-learning role in the military setting

Lesson Learning is well embedded in the United States Army and forms a model which industry can emulate, especially when it comes to assigning knowledge management roles within the business.


www.Army.mil As explained in this excellent analysis from Nancy Dixon, lesson learning works well in the US Army.  This article describes some of the components of the learning system they apply, and mentions processes such as After Action Reviews and Learning Interviews, but also mentions  different roles with accountability for the lessons process. One of the key roles is the  Lessons Learned Integrator, or L2I.

The Lessons Learned Integrator role


The Centre for Army Lessons Learned  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 may need roles similar to the L2I in your operation units.


1 comment:

Cory Cannon said...

One the biggest issues within the U.S. Military is not collecting the after action reports or lessons identified. it is going that next step of the feedback loop to where those lessons identified and AAR comments are utilized for the planning and future operations processes. Once the units start making it a practice to do this simple step then the U.S. Military can progress at a faster rate of speed.

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