Two Important Trigger Questions in a Lessons-Learned-Session (Practical Hint #2)

In connection with the previous post on “Best Practice versus Next Practice”, when you perform a Lessons-Learned Session (other KM practitioners call it “After-Action Review” or “Post-Mortem” etc.), there are two important trigger questions:

1. What worked well?

The answers to this question leads to useful knowledge that can be re-used in similar activities: work templates, approaches, tools, directories, checklists, etc. If something worked exceptionally well, then it is a candidate for best practice (or call it “good practice” if you have no comparative metrics to prove it is “best”).

2. What did not work and why?

Many teams find it difficult to address this question, and some people with personal issues will habitually shift to justifications, blaming others, excuses and all other sorts of unproductive defensive reactions that will prevent the team from understanding why what went wrong did so. BUT, if a team can develop the culture of trust, continuous improvement and constructive inquiry (instead of “witch hunting” or “blame game” or “taking things personally”), the question “What did not work and why?” can lead to improvement and innovation of NEXT practice!

If this happens, the obverse KM question “What did not work and why?” will prove superior to the KM question “What worked well?”. See my previous post on “Cost of Ignorance” on what is the meaning of “obverse knowledge management.”

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