The Lessons Learned Needed Change - Make it Accessible and Encourage Review

Lessons Learned is in a unique comfort zone. Something bad (or good) happens, Lessons are stored in a black hole, everyone is patted on the back, then the lessons remain dormant and eventually die never to be seen or read.


We want more though right?? We want a system that is better. It is a tragedy that the value of lessons learned is known by most but is never realized because no one reviews the old incidents themselves (myself included). Why? There are a few reasons. Mostly it boils down to 1. Many Lessons Learned Databases are not what they could be, and 2. We are lazy. Even when we know something would be good and beneficial for us we lack the motivation to do it. We need the future of lessons Learned to focus on two things.


  1. Accessibility.

  2. Encouragement (oh ya that's right, We'll make it sexy though).


3. Let's lay out our broken plan about how we're going to do that. Accessibility means a few things to me when speaking about lessons learned.

  1. It has to be available anywhere. Not a desktop computer stuck in place. What is the best medium then? Everyone has a mobile device, so it is not news that a mobile application would be the easiest and most accessible for this time in tech.

  2. It must be available offline. People who work in remote locations with limited access to interwebz need to be able to access the content quickly and easily.

  3. The data MUST be relevant. A floorhand does not care about the best casing designs for h2s wells. So tailor the content to the user.

The content must not only be relevant, people must be encouraged to review those incidents. If you give anyone a plethora of incidents that are unorganized, difficult to find, then people won't use it and find the true value in Lessons. If you give someone a great organized, beautiful database with no objective in mind other than "hey review this at some random time interval", it will not be used well. We must encourage the daily use of reviewing incidents and stress the benefits. In the book Safety Consultant, Crawford states, "motivation in accident prevention begins with adversity." We want people to review incidents in order to increase safe behavior so we can reduce injuries and death. This can also lead to reduced incidents of equipment damage and non-productive time so that people can thrive; keeping their jobs, getting promotions and taking care of their families. Motivation in accident prevention begins with adversity, but it doesn't have to be your misfortune you learn from. We want to focus on these two points for encouragement.


  1. Encourage the daily practice of reviewing one incident on your job site daily, whether it's safety or non-productive time (NPT) related.

  2. Tell the why. Why it will not only benefit the team and company, but it can directly affect their personal well being. Keeping their job, reducing mistakes.


We believe that if you follow these simple steps to change your lessons learned database you can see dramatic effects in your business performance for safety and non-productive time. Is it worth the price of enforcing this though? That's up to you.


The only way you will know if it's worth it is to return to your worksite, implement the changes and give it time. Hopefully you will see increased participation and knowledge when it comes to safer behaviors and few preventable mistakes.

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