It’s Not Enough to Know

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StrategyPage: Lessons Identified Versus Lessons Learned

"But there are other problems. It’s easier to identify a lesson than to get an organization to act on it and implement a useful solution. For that reason, the British like to use the phrase "lessons identified" to make clear that just noting a problem does not solve it. When you uncover a problem, you are calling into question the wisdom of some earlier decisions. Large organizations do not take kindly to such criticism. Excuses and creative explanations will emerge if a lesson learned threatens some cherished program."

This article looks at the lessons identified after the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, but its point is very relevant to businesses as well. It takes a lot of perseverance to commit changes into the organization’s practice, and many times you see the same flaws and failures from post mortem to post mortem without much if any practical impact. I’d love to find smarter solutions, but I tend to think of it as a war of attrition against inefficiency.

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