Monday, June 11, 2007

Sharing Lessons Learned

In the book, Flawless Execution: Use the Techniques and Systems of America's Fighter Pilots to Perform at Your Peak and Win the Battles of the Business World, James D. Murphy shares a particularly colorful story to illustrate the importance of sharing lessons learned:

"Let's go back in history. In Vietnam, if a fighter pilot could survive his first ten missions, there was a good chance he would survive 100 missions and go home to his family. But the first ten missions were tough -- most of the pilots lost were lost inside of ten missions. To survive long enough to go home, a pilot first had to get through those initial ten missions."
What I think this example highlights is that you put a premium on transferring knowledge when the stakes are high and you see the immediate impact. Unfortunately, I think in many business scenarios, the feedback loops are too long and the impact isn't so obvious.

My Related Posts

2 comments:

practica said...

JD, I think it can can be compared to MTBF what James describes although it might sound cruel comparing people lives/death to MTBF...
So what are your suggestions to shorten feedback loops to make it more impactful?

JD said...

To shorten feedback loops, I use a few practices. Rather than wait for a post-mortem at the end of a project, I encourage sharing lessons learned as we go along. I use light-weight techniques and chunk it up. For example, one approach is to start an email and dump lessons learned in the form of "do" this or "don't" do that.