The Lessons Learned Handbook

The Lessons Learned Handbook

Practical Approaches to Learning from Experience

1st Edition - June 30, 2010

Write a review

  • Author: Nick Milton
  • Paperback ISBN: 9781843345879
  • eBook ISBN: 9781780631929

Purchase options

Purchase options
DRM-free (PDF, Mobi, EPub)
Sales tax will be calculated at check-out

Institutional Subscription

Free Global Shipping
No minimum order


The phrase “lessons learned” is such a common one, yet people struggle with developing effective lessons learned approaches. The Lessons Learned Handbook is written for the project manager, quality manager or senior manager trying to put in place a system for learning from experience, or looking to improve the system they have. Based on experience of successful and unsuccessful systems, the author recognises the need to convert learning into action. For this to happen, there needs to be a series of key steps, which the book guides the reader through. The book provides practical guidance to learning from experience, illustrated with case histories from the author, and from contributors from industry and the public sector.

Key Features

  • The book is a practitioner-level guide to the design and the mechanics of lessons learned processes
  • Takes a holistic approach, tracking lessons from identification to reapplication
  • Makes the case for the assignment of actions for learning


Professionals in knowledge management, organizational learning, quality management, and performance improvement

Table of Contents

  • List of figures and tables



    Chapter 1: Introduction – learning lessons

    Learning as a basic instinct

    Learning in organisations

    Lessons learned systems in organisations

    How well do they work?

    The value of learning lessons

    Chapter 2: Elements of a lesson learning system

    Lesson learning approaches in the 15th century

    What is a ‘lesson learned’?

    The steps in learning a lesson

    Closing the learning loop

    Trial and error, or trial and success?

    Survey results

    Chapter 3: Lessons learned approaches

    Formal collect systems

    Informal collect systems

    Formal connect systems

    Informal connect systems

    A blended approach

    Chapter 4: Principles of lesson identification

    When to identify lessons?

    The principles of lesson identification

    Aiming for the ‘quality lesson’

    Examples of poor lessons


    Stories and lessons

    Self-identification of lessons versus lesson identification processes

    The questioning process – the metaphor of the tree

    Roles and accountabilities in lesson identification

    Chapter 5: Processes of lessons identified

    Post-project reviews or retrospects

    After action reviews

    Individual learning interviews

    Learning histories

    Evaluations and assessments

    Incident investigation

    Chapter 6: Writing down the lessons

    Each lesson stands alone

    The lesson needs to be easy to follow and well structured

    How much context?

    Who is the audience?


    Quality assurance and validation

    Lessons must lead to action

    Chapter 7: Taking action

    Will there always be an action?

    What sort of actions are needed?

    How do you decide the action?

    Who assigns the action?

    Escalating the action

    Closing lessons

    Chapter 8: Process ownership and process update

    Who owns the processes?

    Local vs company process owners

    The role of the process owner

    Engagement with the learning cycle

    Lessons workflow

    Validation and escalation

    Documenting processes

    Chapter 9: Ensuring lessons and updated processes are re-applied

    Broadcasting new lessons and process improvements

    Process improvements and training

    Process review as part of operations

    Chapter 10: Technology to support lesson learning

    Lesson repositories

    Knowledge libraries

    Publish and search technology


    Chapter 11: Sharing and seeking the unwritten lessons

    Communities of practice

    Peer assist

    Baton passing

    Knowledge handover

    Promoting conversation

    Chapter 12: The governance of lesson learning

    A governance framework

    Make corporate expectations clear

    Lesson learning systems

    Monitoring and measurement

    The supporting organisation

    Chapter 13: The principles and processes of safety investigations

    What happened and why?

    The investigation process

    The final report

    Chapter 14: Learning lessons in networks at Mars, Inc

    Learn from where we are

    Learn from what we know

    Learn from the past six months

    Formalising the learning


    Chapter 15: Wikis as part of a learning system; a conversation with Peter Kemper

    Chapter 16: How not to learn lessons

    Chapter 17: Conclusions


Product details

  • No. of pages: 206
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Chandos Publishing 2010
  • Published: June 30, 2010
  • Imprint: Chandos Publishing
  • Paperback ISBN: 9781843345879
  • eBook ISBN: 9781780631929

About the Author

Nick Milton

Dr Nick Milton is a director and co-founder of Knoco Ltd - a Knowledge Management consultancy comprised of seasoned knowledge management practitioners, mentors, and coaches. Knoco Ltd has been delivering successful and sustained Knowledge Management implementation to clients since 1999.

Affiliations and Expertise

Knoco Ltd, UK

Ratings and Reviews

Write a review

Latest reviews

(Total rating for all reviews)

  • Jerry L. Wed Sep 14 2022

    The lessons learned Handbook

    Very interesting book