How to move from Lessons Learned to rapid learning!

No more Lessons Learned, only rapid learning!

I am currently working with organisations in the UK and US to accelerate the speed of learning, something we call, rapid learning.

The organisations we are working with have traditionally worked with Lessons Learned programs. However, all too often they fail. Generally this failure can be associated with failures in one of the 12 Rs of a traditional Lessons Learned approach.


For example, this LL program developed for a European Oil & Gas company:

The LLP was designed to sense process/system errors, improve quality, reduce expenditure, while also protect against duplication of effort. The LLP had been in place for two years and had collected over 1300 lessons learned from engineering-based projects.

Enquiry 1: We conducted a system test and demonstrated that lesson captured by engineers were being uploaded but could not be located by other users. For example, we located an interesting lesson that spoke about a process change and asked 10 engineers to locate the same lesson we had found. In each case the engineer, using key-words typical to the problem discussed in the lesson, did not present the document we had previously located.

 Enquiry 2: We spoke directly with the LLP management team about access rates, re-use rates and impact/results from the lessons captured. The managers were not able to provide any evidence for a lesson being accessed, re-used or how the LLP had created an impact. This equated to zero value being linked to a LLP that had cost in excess of $1.3 million over a two year period. This included zero ROI on:

  • LLP staffing costs

  • Investment and maintenance costs of the software platform

  • Costs associated with 1300 engineers completing a lessons learned template that required, on average, 5 hours of input from 5 staff – a total of 32,500 man-hours).

The main problem is that traditional Lessons Learned programs are focused on process, but fail fail to take into account the bigger picture:

  • People

  • Purpose

  • Potential

  • Policy

  • Process

When you do take these factors into account, in the context of adults learning in organisations, you quickly move away from archaic Lessons Learned projects to rapid, real time, on demand, one-size-fits-one, rapid learning solutions.

The following flow should help you with some of those considerations.

You just have to understand the starting conditions, the stakeholders, the nature of learning and how it impacts issues of time, quality, safety, innovation and cost. 

The outcome is Rapid Learning. Learning, accelerated through optimised processes, people and behaviours.

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