Why Learn Lessons and Develop Good Practices?
An organisation’s effectiveness depends on learning lessons from experience, yet most fail to do it in practice. Often, in fact, what they log as 'lessons learned' turn out to be 'commonly-repeated mistakes'! 'Documenting' lessons is not the same as 'learning' from them.
Failure to learn lessons and to adopt good practices seriously weakens an organisation. For example:
- If a high-profile issue is mis-managed because lessons from past experience have not been applied, public confidence will be lost - witness recent floods, epidemics, high-profile construction projects, and social programmes.
- On a day-to-day basis, the failure to embed learning indicates that knowledge is being held by individuals rather than by the organisation as a whole - a risk to long-term corporate survival.
There are understandable, but inexcusable, reasons for failing to learn lessons and adopt good practices:
- Focusing on ‘the next initiative’ because this offers better prospects of recognition and reward
- Believing, from experience, that the organisation will not effectively follow through on lessons, so there is no point in identifying them.
- A reluctance to discuss areas of poor performance openly - for fear of damaging professional pride or rewards.
- The lack of an appropriate process to gather and analyse experience and promote informed good practice.
Our 'Lessons Learned' programme enables organisations to break out of this stalemate. It introduces processes which overcome the blockers to the ability to learn from experience.