As part of a wider discussion about knowledge management (KM), we’ve recently been looking at the following ten steps in the life of a lesson:
1. Event takes place – an experience, idea, incident or accident
3. Packaging – write-up of lessons
4. Review for accuracy – editing and improvement by person who identified the lesson
5. Validation – quality check, ownership assigned and upload into a management system
6. Review for accountability – periodic checks on progress
7. Implement recommendations – to avoid/ensure recurrence of bad/good alike
8. Review for effectiveness – ensure that changes have taken place and/or had desired effect
9. Closure – lesson status updated but retained in system for reference and to aid analysis
10. Assurance – as part of risk management, periodic review to ensure closed status remains justified
Last time we examined lesson closure – we’ll now finish this discussion by looking at post-closure assurance.
In any organisation with an embedded lessons learned system, it doesn’t take too long for closed lessons to become so many in number for people to lose track of them. Therefore it makes sense to develop some form of periodic review, whereby closed lessons are checked to ensure that they have sufficiently robust audit trails (i.e. the comments from those that managed the lesson and implemented its recommendation(s)). Furthermore, the status of the lesson should also be validated – i.e. do we have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that no further work is required? Does the issue from which the lesson was originally drawn no longer occur?
If lessons are found to have incomplete audit trails or the implemented changes did not address the original issue sufficiently well, the lesson should be re-opened and managed to completion. If lessons are found to have been closed correctly, then the audit trail should be updated to show that the assurance review has taken place.
I began this look at the different stages in the life of a lesson because I come across many people that persist with the view that lessons are things written down from which others might learn if they can be bothered to read them.
I’ve run meetings for clients where people express frustration that they’re discussing the same issues again and again and that “we never seem to learn from our lessons”. Without engaging in discussion with those experiencing this angst, there is the risk that lessons as a concept lose credibility and people don’t bother anymore.
I have set out by views on what we should do to and with lessons to ensure that we learn them; you will have your own views. Let’s hear them…
For more information on lessons, lessons management systems, knowledge management (KM) and organisational learning, please visit the Knoco website.