Monday 13 February 2012

The difference between best practice and lessons learned

Someone last week asked me, what's the difference between Best Practice, and Lessons Learned.

 Now I know that some KM pundits don't like the term "Best Practice" as it can often be used defensively, but I think that there is nothing wrong with the term itself, and if used well, Best Practice can be a very useful concept within a company. So let's dodge the issue of whether Best Practice is a useful concept, and instead discuss it's relationship to lessons learned.

My reply to the questioner was that Best Practice is the amalgamation of many lessons learned.

If we believe that learning must lead to action, that lessons are the identified improvements in practice, and that the actions associated with lessons are generally practice improvements, then it makes sense that as more and more lessons are accumulated, so practices become better and better. A practice that represents the accumulation of all lessons is the best practice available at the time.

See the diagram (though really instead of a steadily increasing arrow, it should go up in small incremental steps, but that's beyond my drawing ability).


Anonymous said...

Process are good, but people are bether. We learn with lessons, working every day, getting practice. The Lessons Learned could be very useful to improve our Best Practices (generaly based on good methods and process). All this are very important to KM, mainly when alligned with the main targets from Company Strategy - People and Customer centered.

Nick Milton said...

People, Process, technology and Governance. We need them all.

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