Re: Lessons Learned Storage & Access #lessons-learned

Nirmala Palaniappan

Hi David,

You’ve already received some excellent answers and pointers. Here are some insights and suggestions I am happy to share. Hope you find these to be useful and relevant to your business environment 

  1. As far as possible, it is a good idea to extend and enhance existing systems to capture lessons learned on the go as opposed to setting up a separate technology platform. For example, if you have a product management system or a CRM platform, it may be more effective to upgrade/customise them to include lessons learned 
  2. If you have no option to customise existing systems and are setting up a separate system, do integrate it with existing systems and bring it under a common search umbrella 
  3. Conduct brainstorming sessions with subject matter experts and key users to decide on the metadata for lessons learned. Map it to the processes, type of knowledge, expected benefits, whether it is conceptual or practical, time frame and so on
  4. To add to Nick’s excellent input regarding embedding lessons learned into procedures, processes, checklists etc, you could include a status box in the lessons learned platform and archive those that have been institutionalised and converted into a “habit”
  5. If your organisation enjoys video-based learning, do remember that it is not always necessary to document lessons learned in a conventional manner. Some lessons learned can be curated into an impactful video 
  6. If you can afford it, have content writers work on polishing and making the lessons learned consumable and enjoyable 
  7. Create and provide a lot of sample templates to bring in at least some amount of standardisation of content 
  8. Doing #7 might help you leverage on Machine Learning/NLP algorithms to discover patterns, analyse them and use them as inputs for decision-making/Management 
  9. If feasible, identify and employ champions and give them the responsibility of “managing” lessons learned in business critical and/or evolving areas. Engage them in curating and assisting in the application of lessons learned in the said areas 
  10. Get creative in the way you brand the initiative/programme and make it enjoyable and rewarding (though, it seems like your colleagues don’t particularly need encouragement in submitting lessons learned)

If you would like to discuss this or have further queries, please do not hesitate.


On Fri, 8 Jan 2021 at 5:43 PM, Chris Collison <chris.collison@...> wrote:

Fully agree with you regarding the ‘clearing house’ concept Nick, and great chapter by the way.


The perfect lessons learned database is an empty one – and conversely, a library of lessons which are starting to gather dust is an indicator of a failure of organisational learning. 


I wonder if we need a metaphor with in which lessons have a shorter shelf-life and are a means to an end rather than an end in themselves…    A lessons learned larder perhaps?


Chris Collison

Knowledgeable Ltd

Author of the KM Cookbook





From: <> on behalf of Nick Milton <nick.milton@...>
Reply to: "" <>
Date: Friday, 8 January 2021 at 08:59
To: "" <>
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Lessons Learned Storage & Access #lessonslearned


David, the best way to deal with massive numbers of lessons, is to embed them into guidance and best practice. You may have hundreds of lessons now, in a few years you will have thousands, and asking people to sift through these, resolving contradictions, sorting through repeat and duplicate lessons, becomes completely impractical.


If you look at organisations which are successful in lesson learning, such as NASA, the Oil Sector, the Military etc, you see that the lessons database (or lessons management system) is not the final repository of the lessons, but is a clearing house, directing the lessons to the subject matter experts who will embed them into procedure, process, guidance and doctrine. The lessons management system only holds those lessons which are still in process of being learned, and once that lesson is embedded into working practice it can be considered “learned” and removed from the system.


Project managers therefore only really need to follow the updated guidance, into which the lessons are embedded, rather than sifting through hundreds or thousands of entries.


You can find more details of this approach on my blog (here for example), and in my book “The Lesson Learned handbook”. The attached article may also be useful.


Nick Milton
Knoco Ltd


twitter @nickknoco

Author of the recent book - "The Knowledge Manager’s Handbook"


"Ambition without knowledge is like a boat on dry land." 
--Mark Lee



From: <> On Behalf Of David Graffagna
Sent: 07 January 2021 16:53
Subject: [SIKM] Lessons Learned Storage & Access #lessonslearned


Hello all,


As I have mentioned in previous messages, my KM Team has a number of work-in-progress efforts aimed at enhancing our overall knowledge sharing environment. One of our targets for this year is a focus on a more standard approach to soliciting, gathering, capturing and providing access to key lessons learned from variety of projects and initiatives.


My question to this group regards your knowledge and insight around the storage of those lessons learned and providing access to lessons learned/insights for a broad audience to tap into and consume. Let me set the context so you have a sense of where our challenges lie.


Our primary source for lessons learned typically comes from significant, cross-function, multi-year projects … so numerous people involved, a wide variety of functional areas participating, and broad range of potential knowledge areas for learning. Over the past months we have worked with a handful of project managers in soliciting lessons from their project team members as part of the project wrap-up/closeout; helping us get a sense of the breadth and depth of what those teams learned during their initiative.


Frankly, the volume and value of what we have received back is beyond our initial expectations. The team members, individually or in small functional groups, have been great in answering the standard set of questions we have crafted and capturing replies in the format we have provided (Excel for now). One team, for example, consisting of 15 individuals provided us with more than 70 individual “line items” of lessons learned on anything from budget/finance, communications, design & development, marketing/commercialization, production planning, risk mitigation … and on and on across a long list of knowledge areas and activities. Currently, from six projects we’ve ‘tested’ we have over 500 lessons learned, but grouped (and captured) specific to each particular project.


Here's one of my biggest challenges … if we have hundreds of lessons learned what’s the best way of capturing and sharing (e.g., making them accessible) those without overwhelming our audiences … while making it easy for them to find the right lesson in the right context?


So, bottom line … would love to know good, effective approaches you’ve seen around capturing and sharing those lessons. What have you seen around lessons learned from broad-ranging projects?


Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and insights!


Best regards,


David Graffagna

"The faithful see the invisible, believe the incredible and then receive the impossible" - Anonymous

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