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OR&A / IDEAS Lessons Learned System

Introduction to the concept of Lessons Learned
Identification of a potential lesson (or a Best Practice) is usually achieved by one of the following means:

  • The consequences of an error, oversight or omission are manifested in the outcome of the project (failure);

  • The consequences of an error, oversight or omission cause loss or harm (incident);

  • The potential outcome of an error, oversight or omission identified by a project activity such as a health check, review or audit;

  • As a result of a good idea or an innovative concept that subsequently resulted in a positive outcome for the project (this could subsequently be referred to as a Best Practice, but is treated the same way as a Lesson);

  • Formally, in the context of a Lessons Learned Workshop or similar activity;

  • Informally, as part of a discussion that is not part of a formal Lessons Learned exercise (see Knowledge Management).

A large number of Potential Lessons may well be identified on any given project, but when these are reviewed, developed, detailed, analysed, categorised and evaluated, a much smaller number of Lessons Learned will be created.

Ideally, Lessons Learned produced from every project should be included in a robust system which enables administration, storage and retrieval of those lessons on demand. However, because every Lessons Learned will not be applicable to every project, some method of context sensitive sorting, evaluation and selection methodology or system is also required.

Although categorising and quantifying the 'potential' lessons and arriving at some form of mitigating action that could be applied to prevent its occurrence is onerous, for a lesson to be effective, the loop must be closed by identifying the point at which the mitigating action needs to be implemented.

Implementation has always been the weakest link in the concept of Lessons Learned and has always been restricted by the lack of a true Lessons Learned System.

The OR&A Lessons Learned System overcomes all of these issues as it is a true 'Closed Loop' system, as explained on the following pages.

 

Lessons Learned Pyramid
The hierarchy of the development of Lessons Learned can be illustrated using a pyramid structure. Essentially there are always many more Potential Lessons, represented by the size of the base layer of the pyramid.

Validating these lessons reduces the number of lessons considerably and this is illustrated by the smaller size of the second layer showing Lessons Learned.

Lessons Learned Hierarchy - Pyramid

At the next level, Peer Advice is the feedback of mitigating action into the project to prevent the manifestation of a consequences of an error, oversight or omission from which a Potential Lesson originated.

At the top of the pyramid, a new activity or task could be created when the same peer advice is used frequently or to implement a Best Practice. Theoretically, this could also lead to an entirely new process or procedure to build upon that Best Practice.


OR&A Ltd