Query: what do you do with "lessons learned" discussions? #lessons-learned


Jack Vinson <jackvinson@...>
 

Hello-

My question: for people that are successfully using lessons learned / after action reviews / debriefs, what mechanisms do you use to collect / review the results across many discussions?  Is there any value behind putting discussion topics into a database / table for ongoing review? 

Context:
I'm working with a client who want to do a better job with their post-project debriefs. Rather than simply doing a gripe session (therapy session) at the end of a key milestone, they actually want to improve the system that is generating the gripes. 

We've brought in a little more structure to the conversations: go through the high level process and expectations and articulate areas where things have gone well or or that need improvement.  Dive into those areas that seem to be sources of positive or negative movement, and articulate some suggestions or questions.  Great.  For those of us who have participated in the conversations, there are some topics that come up over and over again, and we have attacked those.  Once the area for improvement is identified, there are good mechanisms for describing (and quantifying if possible) the problem and recommending solutions.

Thanks for your thoughts! 

Jack Vinson


Nancy Dixon
 

Jack,
In my experience AARs are best used as input for the team, not as lessons for others, because the questions are  structured to be context specific. Also if team members thinks their lessons will be shared with  management and others, they are less likely to be honest and to really learn and improve.   

It is, however, possible to run a workshop at the end of a project that is focused on lessons for others, often called a retrospect, but it has quite a different format than an AAR.  Here the focus is on what have we learned that would be useful to others as opposed to an AAR where the question is what would we do differently next time.  One process used after a retrospect is to run a handover workshop where other projects are invited in to hear the lessons. But probably the   most important use of the output of a retrospect is to update the guidance documents for the topic. 

Rather than collecting and storing individual documents it is more effective to have an SME who is responsible for a topic area.  That SME receives output from retrospects as well as output from community discussions and synthesizes them into one document that serves as guidance. the document may have attachments or levels of detail, but it does not remain just a jumble of individual documents.

Nancy

On Jun 20, 2012, at 8:13 AM, Jack Vinson wrote:

 

Hello-

My question: for people that are successfully using lessons learned / after action reviews / debriefs, what mechanisms do you use to collect / review the results across many discussions?  Is there any value behind putting discussion topics into a database / table for ongoing review? 

Context:
I'm working with a client who want to do a better job with their post-project debriefs. Rather than simply doing a gripe session (therapy session) at the end of a key milestone, they actually want to improve the system that is generating the gripes. 

We've brought in a little more structure to the conversations: go through the high level process and expectations and articulate areas where things have gone well or or that need improvement.  Dive into those areas that seem to be sources of positive or negative movement, and articulate some suggestions or questions.  Great.  For those of us who have participated in the conversations, there are some topics that come up over and over again, and we have attacked those.  Once the area for improvement is identified, there are good mechanisms for describing (and quantifying if possible) the problem and recommending solutions.

Thanks for your thoughts! 

Jack Vinson


Nancy M. Dixon
Common Knowledge Associates
 512 912 6100

now blogging at www.nancydixonblog.com







katepugh@...
 

Hi, Jack , Nancy et al
This is a challenge we've been trying to address as well with the Knowledge Jam. The two differentiations are the planning process -- extensive planning of the agenda with that SME Nancy mentions (we call that person the "broker") in combination with the "originators", and ensuring that there is a plan to put the outcomes to work.
 
Kate

Katrina Pugh
President, AlignConsulting
Author of Sharing Hidden Know-How (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2011)
katepugh@...
www.alignconsultinginc.com
617 967 3910 (m)
781 259 0340 (l)


-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Dixon
To: sikmleaders
Sent: Sun, Jun 24, 2012 8:40 am
Subject: Re: [sikmleaders] Query: what do you do with "lessons learned" discussions?

 
Jack,
In my experience AARs are best used as input for the team, not as lessons for others, because the questions are  structured to be context specific. Also if team members thinks their lessons will be shared with  management and others, they are less likely to be honest and to really learn and improve.   

It is, however, possible to run a workshop at the end of a project that is focused on lessons for others, often called a retrospect, but it has quite a different format than an AAR.  Here the focus is on what have we learned that would be useful to others as opposed to an AAR where the question is what would we do differently next time.  One process used after a retrospect is to run a handover workshop where other projects are invited in to hear the lessons. But probably the   most important use of the output of a retrospect is to update the guidance documents for the topic. 

Rather than collecting and storing individual documents it is more effective to have an SME who is responsible for a topic area.  That SME receives output from retrospects as well as output from community discussions and synthesizes them into one document that serves as guidance. the document may have attachments or levels of detail, but it does not remain just a jumble of individual documents.

Nancy

On Jun 20, 2012, at 8:13 AM, Jack Vinson wrote:

 
Hello-

My question: for people that are successfully using lessons learned / after action reviews / debriefs, what mechanisms do you use to collect / review the results across many discussions?  Is there any value behind putting discussion topics into a database / table for ongoing review? 

Context:
I'm working with a client who want to do a better job with their post-project debriefs. Rather than simply doing a gripe session (therapy session) at the end of a key milestone, they actually want to improve the system that is generating the gripes. 

We've brought in a little more structure to the conversations: go through the high level process and expectations and articulate areas where things have gone well or or that need improvement.  Dive into those areas that seem to be sources of positive or negative movement, and articulate some suggestions or questions.  Great.  For those of us who have participated in the conversations, there are some topics that come up over and over again, and we have attacked those.  Once the area for improvement is identified, there are good mechanisms for describing (and quantifying if possible) the problem and recommending solutions.

Thanks for your thoughts! 

Jack Vinson


Nancy M. Dixon
Common Knowledge Associates
 512 912 6100

now blogging at < font class="Apple-style-span" color="#1E00FF">www.nancydixonblog.com