Talk about Lessons Learned, KM and PM on LinkedIn

Talk about Lessons Learned, KM and PM on LinkedIn.  Below are 4 recent LinkedIn posts all about Lessons Learned KM and PM.  I have made comments and found some like minded folk who share a passion for Lessons Learned… Enjoy the links and reading

Project Manager Community – Best Group for Project Management
Lessons Learned Meetings – Dumb Idea?
Are waiting to do lessons learned meetings at the end of the project valuable or by then is it too late and they are just dumb?

Project Management Link ( Project, Program & Portfolio Managers )
Hello Project Managers, What is “Lessons Learnt” or “Learning from Experience”?Is it about transferring relevant knowledge of an individual to the many?
Is it about “Experience is the best teacher”, and so we should always capture our important experiences and teach them to others?
Is it about not repeating mistakes of the past but repeating its successes?
Is it about collecting the individual tacit knowledge of the organization and transient them into the organization’s wisdom?
Personally I think it all of the above and more.
So my question is do you apply “Learning from Experience” in your organization? If so, how do you do it?

PMO – Project Management Office
Learning Lessons from Lessons Learned
Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him. During the last decade of last century, many companies had..

We really need to talk about knowledge..
November 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Crowne Plaza Reading
This event requires registration:
How do we know what it means to manage a project? In this APM Knowledge SIG Courageous Conversations event, Dr Jon Whitty and Dr Judy Payne invite you to challenge preconceptions about project management knowledge.
Project management knowledge. Knowledge about project management. What is it? Where is it? Who creates it? When is it needed? Why is it important? Where is it used? Who owns it? These are some of the most difficult questions to answer about project management knowledge.
This interactive and stimulating event will address these questions and explore how our preconceptions about knowledge affect the way we feel and act; the role of professional associations; and how knowledge about project management develops – or doesn’t.
Please don’t expect definitive answers. This event is one strand of a conversation that we hope will lead to new concepts, new language, and better understanding of the issues relating to project management knowledge. It’s our profession. We want to encourage a greater confidence in the APM community to talk freely and fearlessly about new ways forward. Are you brave enough to join in?
Labels: Body of Knowledge, project management, professional knowledge
Event Organizer: Judy Payne (Practitioner, consultant and reluctant academic specialising in collaborative working, knowledge management and learning)

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Do we learn from risks?

I recently posted on a Risk Management LinkedIn group a question “Do we learned from risks?”

Is it possible to ‘integrate’ risk management and knowledge management (ie lessons learned) in a project management environment?
Please share your experiences…

I received a number of good responses that will all help with understanding the KM, RM and PM variables associated with learning from risks.

….extract from the group post 29April2012:
To Justin, Jacquetta, Garth, Rick, Peter, Quinton and ir Peter, very much appreciate you for all sharing and making comments.
@Garth, I like the comments on cultural/systemic risk
@ Rick, I like the anti-mistake solution 🙂

@Quinton, I agree that Knowledge Management (KM) is much more than Lessons Learned which is why I get frustrated in the PM circles of PMBoK and PRINCE2 etc looks like we have a common interest in the role of KM in project Risk Management (RM)…

One thing I am struggling with is that both KM systems and RM systems don’t seem to be well integrated and yet they both play an important role in capturing/managing uncertainty and project success. My experience shoes that KM systems contain a lot of risk related information that one does not find in RM systems.
I am currently researching PM Lessons Learned ( and this alignment with risk management is a key variable of interest for me.
If anyone else has some learning’s to share, please comment or contact/connect with me privately.
Regards, Stephen


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Lessons Learned 2.0 – When and how to capture lessons learned

All, another good post on the apm site. Lessons Learned 2.0 – When and how to capture lessons learned. I have just made a few comments, hopefully this may encourage some more feedback 🙂

Owain: When and how to capture lessons learned (often known more as Lessons Identified) >>> There are many KM methods one can use…(peer assist, scoping, action learning, after action reviews, CoPs, Project reviews, LL ?, Learning diaries, group brainstorming, knowledge cafe, knowledge jam, retrospect’s, post project reviews, knowledge histories, storytelling, case studies, reflection….the list goes on)  and the timing should be from Day 1, then weekly, fortnightly or Monthly at regular meetings…

How and when to share lessons learned >

Adoption – Issues, motivation and ways to gain adoption>>>These are the tricky ones…this is where culture, social and systems block the process.

patw: >>> Your on the mark with a KM solution… Not quite sure on the KM system front?… however my research to date in the KM space would say KM is broken in many aspects as much as Lessons Learned is broken. On the term ‘lessons Learned’ (I really don’t like this label – can we call it something else?) I do believe we should be looking at replacing the ‘Lessons Learned’ terms in PMBOK and PRINCE 2 etc with KM terms, as there are many other KM methods/ways we can share our learning’s.

james: >>> The behavioral issue you mention is very much from my perspective the social/culture factors that block the process.  I too have had an interesting background with best (good) practice, I have seen the best and worst of this approach…in summary many PMs do not want to follow others best practice? . why? We just like repeating the mistakes of others? More on this topic in the months to come on

Regards, Stephen



Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Lessons Learned (Knowledge Management) and Risk Management game set and match.

Over the last 18 months I have seen a powerful connection between Knowledge Management and Risk Management. Risk Management practitioners who use lessons learned as a source of information for risk identification are in a significant position within the organisation to effectively integrate knowledge management and risk management into the project life cycle. Risk Management practitioners are often facilitating risk workshops and share knowledge gained both vertically and horizontally across the organisation. Over the next few months I will continue with this discussion with the linkage to Risk Management.

A couple of papers and blogs have also recently caught my attention and a worth a read:

Neef (2005) ‘In many forward-looking corporations KM procedures, techniques and tools are being used to perform risk management. KRM, the integration of knowledge and risk management, is alive and well and, given the global importance of risk management, may provide KM with a much-needed and revitalizing boost.’

Neef, Dale 2005, ‘Managing corporate risk through better knowledge management’, Learning Organization, The, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 112-24.

Post by Mel Bost  How Does an Active Project Risk Management Plan Facilitate an “Actionable” Project Lessons Learned Framework?

Until next time, enjoy the read…

Regards, Stephen

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Lessons learned debate turns to competitive advantage. Have your say… (from a Linkedin post) Part 2

Lessons learned provide a competitive advantage, I do not see them being shared with third parties via professional association websites”. I would be interested to hear your comments.

From what I have seen, most organisations maintain their lessons learned in house for competitive advantage, although some organisations (mainly government) make their lessons learned available to the public (NASA, US Department of Transportation )

What organisations do you know have shared their lessons learned?

Looking forward to hearing from you all.

Regards, Stephen

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Lessons learned debate turns to competitive advantage. Have your say… (from a Linkedin post) Part 1

Lessons learned debate has provided an interesting set of views, all focused in the right direction.

My latest comments are:  …Agree with Andrew, great to see the thread alive and thanks to Chris, Judfor their feedback. Chris, I am all for innovation, just that we need to be careful with the change process approach in learning lessons, as I have seen a couple of times that the leaning of a process may come back and bite you in the future, if you’re not careful. (A lesson learned for me). Judy, culture looks to be the key cause of failure in the lessons learned process, which is why I am looking for alignment to other culture experiences that may be able to add value to the project management lessons learned process. The just culture work of Sidney Dekker may also be of interest. On the question ‘lessons Learned’ (I really don’t like this label – can we call it something else? ) sends me down the path to why in am researching about lessons learned. For some reason, Project Management methodologies and PM knowledge books seem to only use the term ‘lessons learned’? Perhaps the Project Management community needs to shift the focus to more knowledge management, which will open up the language we use?  I like the work of Milton and Krammer in the KM space for projects. On the PMO front, having managed a functional PMO with 130 project managers, the trouble I see is you can lead a PM to best practice (…that has incorporated lessons learned) but you cannot make them follow it…hmm culture…people?  We as a PM community need to learn lessons and not repeat mistakes of the past.

Thanks for sharing, Stephen

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

PMLLblog summary of Knowledge Conversion

A key element of KM is the knowledge conversion process. Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) developed four modes of knowledge conversion based on cognitive psychology known as the SECI model (socialization – tacit to tacit / externalization – tacit to explicit / combination – explicit to explicit / internalization – explicit to tacit). They also state that the knowledge transformation is interactive and spiral based. They further note that an organisations knowledge is produced in a active and continuous interaction between explicit and tacit knowledge. When consideration is given to the enabling conditions of the four modes of knowledge, Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) derived an integrated five phase model of an organisational knowledge conversion process. The difficulty of transferring tacit to explicit knowledge on projects is frequently discussed and most authors refer to the importance of externalisation mode of the SECI model (Bresnen et al. 2003; Fernie et al. 2003; Holste & Fields 2010; Keen & Tan 2007; Nonaka 2007; Nousala, Hall & John 2007; Reich & Wee 2006).

Firestone and McElroy (2003) indicate that the SECI model (Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995) may be incomplete. The oversight is that the SECI model neglects to consider ‘implicit’ knowledge. Firestone and McElroy (2003) maintain that tacit knowledge is inexpressible and there can be no conversion from tacit to explicit, whereas implicit knowledge can be converted to explicit. Keen and Tan (2007, p. 4) refer to implicit knowledge as ‘…what we take for granted, rarely think about and are surprised to find that others do not share’. Srikantaiah et al. (2010, p. ix) refers to implicit knowledge as ‘…knowledge that is not captured in documentary form but in practice could be’. Polanyi (1958) makes reference to implicit knowledge so it is interesting to note that Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) made no provision for implicit knowledge. Wilson (2002), Keen and Tan (2007) and Srikantaiah et al. (2010) propose to include implicit knowledge as the link between explicit and tacit knowledge. Additionally, Day (2005) states that implicit and tacit knowledge are often synonymous terms and he attempts to clear up the implications for KM. The challenge with knowledge conversion and the lessons learned process is the ability to capture and transfer/disseminate the tacit/implicit knowledge subject as the KM project management process is primarily explicit in nature.

What are your thoughts on Knowledge Conversion? Have I missed something?

The next post will focus on Learning and Organisational Learning.


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

PMLLblog summary of Knowledge Management (KM)

During the 1980s individuals and organisations began to value the role of knowledge in competitive business and industrial environments. A number of reports emerged during the late 1980s in the public domain focussed on how to manage knowledge explicitly (Wiig 1997). During the 1990s various KM journals and conferences started to appear with an exponential growth and the knowledge focus started to drive the development of KM frameworks and literature (Hasan & Handzic 2003; Hislop 2005; Wiig 1997). Some of the major approaches to KM frameworks were identified by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) (knowledge processes), Nonaka and Kono (1998) (enablers framework), and Alavi and Leidner (2001) (six knowledge perspectives and ten knowledge area’s). O’Dell and Grayson (1998, p. 6) from the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) describes KM as ‘…a conscious strategy of getting the right knowledge to the right people at the right time and helping people share and put information into action in ways that strive to improve organizational performance.’

Edwards et al. (2003) conducted a survey of KM academics and practitioners which highlighted the following most influential authors in the domain of knowledge management: Nonaka; Nonaka and Takeuchi; Davernport and Prusak; and Snowden. Edwards et al. (2003, p. 60) further concludes that the single most important challenge to KM is ‘…to produce a coherent and cohesive body of theory, based on empirical evidence’.

Here in Australia, KM became very active early in 2001 when Standards Australia formed a technical writing committee to develop the Australian Knowledge Management Standard. The first edition of the Standard was released in 2003 (Standards Australia 2005) and provided clear KM definitions. There is a general feeling that a KM definition is difficult to achieve and that many avoid defining it (Firestone & McElroy 2003). Firestone and McElroy have identified a KM definition ‘specification gap’ and they prefer the term Knowledge Life cycle (KLC) as the new KM and are critical of many KM definitions by influential authors. Firestone and McElroy also conclude that publishing standards for KM are seriously premature as most of the KM literature fails to make the distinction between KM and knowledge processing. Burford and Ferguson (2011) researched Australian government organisations and found that most participants had not heard of the Australian KM Standard and identified a significant gap between KM practice and the Standard. An observation of the Australian KM Standard with respect to the lessons learned is that the Standard does not reference the lessons learned process. This does provide a problem and limitation in a project perspective when using the standard with other current PM knowledge sources.

Across the globe many organisations in the public and private sectors are now recognising KM as being of central importance to advanced economies and organisational performance (Hislop 2005; National Audit Office 2009). Nousala et al. (2009) reports that it is hard to implement the KM process in organisations that are project based, as setting up activities across stove-pipe organisations and profit cost centres is challenging. However it is clear that KM in project based organisations is critical to keep up the competitive advantage (Ajmal, Kekäle & Takala 2009; Love, Edum-Fotwe & Irani 2003; Nousala et al. 2009).

Prusak (2011) suggests that the knowledge management principles developed in the mid-1990s and early-2000s were developed with information in mind and not knowledge and that is one of the key reasons that knowledge management efforts have run into problems. Prusak (2011, p. xii) further states that we now know different things about working with knowledge:

  • Knowledge is better understood as a flow. It is highly dynamic, non-linear, and difficult to measure or even manage. Working with it entails new techniques that we are still learning about.
  • Although technology surely has its place, working with knowledge is primarily a human activity needing human organization and understanding.
  • Knowledge in organizations is profoundly social and best managed in groups, networks, communities, and practices.

O’Dell and Hubert (2011, p. 2) describe the new edge in KM based on APQC research and benchmarking activities and define KM as ‘…a systematic effort to enable information and knowledge to grow, flow, and create value’. The new forces affecting KM are: digital immersion (multitasking); social computing; evolving demographics and dynamics; mobile devices and video (O’Dell & Hubert 2011). O’Dell and Hubert state that a KM program needs to include the teachable moment (when a person is most open to learning) and the management of knowledge above and in the flow of work (which is focused on making KM part of the work process).

Snowden (2002) suggests that we are getting to the end of the second generation of KM (SECI model of Nonaka and Takeuchi). Snowden (2002, p. 2) proposes that the third generation of KM ‘…requires the clear separation of context, narrative and content management and challenges the orthodoxy of scientific management’.

Wiig et al. (1997) identified the lessons learned process as a key KM practice. The KM life cycle when applied describes the lessons learned cycle and it is therefore proposed that by understanding the KM theories we further develop our understanding of the lessons learned process around the areas of knowledge flow, people, organisation structure and technology.

What are your thoughts on Knowledge Management? Have I missed something?

The next post will focus on Knowledge Conversion.


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Is an Organisation’s knowledge system like a washing machine?

As I search the literature for Project Management Lessons Learned, I often find some interesting reading material. I came across the following transformational learning discussion (cited by Schieg (2009)) noting that although we desire for divergent and new organisation knowledge, in reality it is not likely to happen. Blackman and Henderson (2001) describes the analogy of a washing machine:

   ‘If the clothes are to be really clean (attainment of new knowledge) and not reflect previous dirt (experiences) then all the water must be drained out of the system before new water is put in. Even if only a little dirty water remains it will taint the entire rinse. The learning organisation routines discussed in this paper define residual dirt as clean, or at least acceptably so. However, if the system is closed it will never be possible to get really clean water and so real new knowledge will be unattainable. Some incremental development may occur but transformation seems very unlikely.’

Interesting material, let us know what you think.

Regards, Stephen

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

PM Lessons Learned Study

To the PM and KM world, I am currently close to completing (June 2012) my Masters Project Management (research). I have a strong interest in PM Lessons Learned. Over the last 12 months I have enjoyed learning about the KM World.

My final project/thesis will be ‘Exploring factors that impact knowledge management dissemination of project management lessons learned’.

The focus of this study will be to understand why the majority of projects do not disseminate lessons learned to organisations. Knowledge and project management literature suggests that the lessons learned process in practice rarely happens and does not work well and fails to deliver the intended results. The study will address the significant factors that impact the dissemination of project management lessons between the project team and the organisation. The literature review will focus on the areas of: knowledge; knowledge management; knowledge conversion; learning; organisational learning; lessons learned practices; and culture. So far, the literature review suggests there is limited research on how knowledge management, learning and culture impacts project management and project temporary organisations.

A review of the literature highlights project management literature gaps around people, learning, technology and process. The people factor is the most likely to negatively influence the dissemination of lessons learned in organisations. A conceptual lessons learned model has been derived and based on a swiss cheese model where the variables people, learning, technology and process need to align and be effective to disseminate lessons learned.

By undertaking this study it is expected that a better understanding of the significant project technology, learning, process and people factors will be established. This will assist in the dissemination of the Project Management lessons learned practice being improved. The findings will also contribute to the project management literature and provide an opportunity to improve project knowledge sharing ensuring projects achieve success.

I would be interested to know some of your thoughts on the Project Management world around ‘lessons learned’?


Print pagePDF pageEmail page