You need to be conscious that applying lessons learned requires investing time and resources. This needs to come directly from the business unit so you need to be lean and prioritize actions in order to focus on what drives value. At the beginning I was induced to thinking that registering lessons was the most vital step in the process. I was extremely concerned about registering a great lesson rather than thinking about how to draw specific actions from it. In general terms this means that if you know that a specific process led to a bad decision then you need to modify it quickly. You can round up various lessons and turn them into a book but if no one is paying attention then its pointless.

Over the years I managed to design a lessons learned methodology where we round up various persons and get them to collectively identify and share lessons. A second step involves prioritizing them and designing an action plan. This activity is less time consuming and allows you to quickly pass into the action part. Following this change in methodology we were able to apply 90% of lessons in comparison to the 25% conversation rate of previous years. Part of the activity consists in identifying metrics and objectives so that we know the expected end result.

Actions can vary. I have found that most end up in modifying or creating processes, but there are other types of actions which can vary in nature. Recently I was involved in a lesson which required modifying the contract which was applied for a specific service. Several items were included in order to reduce the risk of penalties and determining the scope of various services. The best thing you can do is help the organization to translate lessons into organizational practices. I don’t believe in expecting individuals to read lessons or to spend time looking for them. When someone is brought to assist a project he should find the correct framework in order to carry out his tasks. I also suggest conducting regular audits in order to determine if processes are being applied correctly.

It is also important to remember that the task cannot be carried out by the knowledge team alone. Responsibility must fall directly into the business unit and you need other key areas to get involved as well. For example, when we carry out the workshop, representatives from the PMO team are present as well. Facilitators from the business unit are also nominated in order to help steer actions and align discussions. Finally applying lessons requires a joint effort where responsibilities are readily assumed and no one stops until the action plan is completed. What practices have worked for you?

Did you enjoy this blog?