NetIKX Blog for September 2017: Lesson Learning

It was a full house for this seminar with Chris Collison – a very popular speaker who has presented to NetIKX on a variety of topics in the past. Lesson learning is an important issue for practitioners in all sectors (even the freelancers among us!) and Chris drew on a wide variety of examples, including the Olympic Games, which has a long history of making good use of lessons learned in order to ensure smooth handover from one team to the next. Chris also pointed out the dangers of assuming that once knowledge has been captured and stored, it is accessible to those who need it – ‘not hiding’ is not the same as sharing! The system will fail if there is no reuse. Documentation is important, but so are the people processes, for example the observer programmes and secondment programmes in the case of the Olympics. People issues can stifle the supply and sharing of knowledge, even if all other processes are in place.

Among the suggestions made for improving the process were using an outside facilitator to free up the project team to focus on their work, using the ‘five whys’ technique and ensuring that you ask the right questions to establish context and surface the high/low spots over the timeline of the project. It is important to package up what you have learned in a user-friendly way: there should be an intent to educate. Connecting the ‘learning loop’ is key and there is a valuable role to be played by communities and networks. You can find more information about organisational learning and the importance of getting lessons learned right on Chris’ website at

As usual, the breakout sessions were invaluable for participants to discuss our own experiences of lessons learned (or in some cases, not learned) and both positive and negative experiences were shared. Many thanks to Chris and to all who contributed to making this such a successful event.

Blog by Carlin Parry.