Monday 5 November 2012

- Lessons database - "5000 stable doors, securely locked"

There is a saying in English - "Closing the stable door, after the horse has bolted" (run away)

 This refers to fixing a problem, after the problem has happened.

 The day before yesterday, one of the presenters at the business workshop I was helping run referred to their Lessons Database as "5000 stable doors, securely locked".

 In a way, this is a good metaphor. Most of the lessons represent a learning from a problem that is too late to fix - the horse has already bolted. However each lesson is an opportunity to stop future horses from bolting (stop the mistake recurring) - so each lesson (if embedded in work process) will keep the other horses secure. However the metaphor points out the reactive, retrospective aspect of many approaches to lesson-learning.

I blogged recently about how good reactive lesson-learning is the second level of maturity, and can be surpassed by a third level, where learning becomes proactive. To continue the metaphor, in the third level, the organisation recognises "horse security" as a real issue, and appoints someone to look after this issue, and capture the learning related to it. They visit other stables, learn from other experiences, and realise very quickly that horse security is enhanced when the stable door is closed. They come back with that lesson, and either brief everyone to close the door, or set up a self-closing mechanism to keep the horse safe.

That third, proactive level is the one that adds long term value.

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