Lessons Learned
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duct tapeWhy can’t we get Lessons Learned to stick?

In the past decade, the impulse to “not re-invent the wheel” became “capturing and replicating” Best Practices, translated into technology-based Knowledge Management solutions. But “build it and they will come” seriously failed to deliver on that promise.

What is needed at this point is not more software, but a cultural adjustment.

The first customer of learning must be the team itself.

What drives successful re-use of knowledge is a culture that has good reason to value learning through experience. That comes from people using learning to succeed in their own work, not from capturing “lessons” for others. The question; When is a ‘Lesson Learned’ learned? points out that Lessons Learned must be proven in the world of action by producing improved results—before becoming knowledge likely to be sought out for re-use.

See that learning is part of leading.

The fastest path to a learning organization coming into being is that of leaders visibly and daily embodying learning. When learning becomes a daily part of how leaders lead, through simple disciplines a virtuous cycle is set in motion.


A proven set of simple disciplines is the Action Review Cycle (ARC) which was refined through Signet’s study of the unit hailed by HBR as “the world’s premiere learning organization.” Key point: Core to that organization’s sustained success was this leader-led disciplined cycle of learning.

The key elements are — clearly communicated Intent, Before Action Reviews (BAR), and After Action Reviews (AAR).

Invest in learning where it matters.

No matter how efficient the process, deliberate learning requires some investment of time. The key is to invest that time where it will pay back many-fold. Learning for learning sake does not grow roots and becomes a flavor of the month or just another box to check. Signet’s consultants are quite skilled in helping sort out where learning is a wise investment of time, and how to conduct it efficiently.

Signet can help

Every culture is unique, so we provide an easily customized approach. Typically it has included: Presentations of research findings and the Action Review Cycle methodology, organizational agility survey, Q&A meetings for key stakeholders, skill-building tailored to the levels of leader and employees involved, and followthrough coaching (often by phone). Please contact us to discuss your particular situation and needs.

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