top of page
  • Writer's picturePeter Wollmann/Frank Kühn

Learning from Lessons Learned - or Magicians’ Rituals?

Updated: May 2, 2020

Manuscript © 2020 Peter Wollmann / Frank Kühn

Management Summary

It is understood that it is difficult to learn from others’ experiences. But why is it so difficult or even impossible to learn from own experiences i.e. translate learnings into action? Why do even good leaders tend to repeat fundamental mistakes even though they led or at least were involved in the Lessons Learned Sessions after the last problem in a large and complex program or project or a similar initiative or even day-to-day process? Literature is full of recommendations and methods/tools like “8 steps how to sustainably prevent losing the momentum in a transformation”, “12 tools to reach highest effectiveness and efficiency in your program”, “7 methods to motivate difficult teams” etc. A lot of recommendations in literature are great – but they are not applied as something fundamental goes wrong. The authors, Frank Kühn and Peter Wollmann, propose a sustainable reply on the challenge of real learning.

A Typical Situation and What It Explains

It is a typical situation, very often experienced by the authors in different contexts in the last couple of years. At the end of a year, the upper leadership team wants to take stock of the real success of the project portfolio and the single programs and projects. A workshop with responsible managers and experts from the diverse involved lines and the most important projects and program meet to prepare the Lessons Learned Report for the upper leadership team. It is – on a high level – easily predictable what the workshop outcome is, these are insights like for instance:

  • Never start a project/program without a dedicated and engaged sponsor who has enough time and internal power to support and solve all fundamental issues.

  • Never start a project/program without an experienced and capable full-time project/program manager and a team with the necessary resources in term of capacity, knowledge, experience etc.

  • Never start a project/program without a defined sufficient budget and make sure that the project direction, detailed plan etc. can be flexibly calibrated at defined milestones if necessary.

  • Never exclude to stop a project or significantly re-direct it even if this causes political problems in the organization.

  • Take enough time in initiation and conceptualization phases in the beginning.

  • Run regular setting checks with external perspectives to explore proactively if something in the overall setting changed and needs to be regarded (re-planning, optimization measures, coaching etc.)

  • Etc.

There are dozens of such insights and conclusions which appear nearly always – and everybody on all levels know them. The people running those Lessons Learned Sessions are not ignorant at all, in contrary.

But why do the insights not lead to a step-by-step optimization or even more fundamental change? Why do projects and programs very often fail in coping with such fundamental questions – and not because for example at the end a new medication turns out to have too many undesirable side effects after they seemed great in the animal tests.

There is a variety of explanatory approaches to this situation. These approaches include both psychological and sociological aspects that are relevant in organizational systems and go deeper than any simple recipes. They help the people in organizations – from our experiences - understand what is happening and what is preventing them from drawing true benefit from their lessons learned. We explain some of them which underline and exemplify the challenges of learning.

Missing time for smart decisions

The first explanatory approach comes from knowledge management, where the difference between data, information, knowledge and wisdom has to be distinguished. Data is without context, information has – technical - context, knowledge is connected with personal experience and an idea how to apply it, wisdom is the sovereignty to deal with information and knowledge responsibly and farsightedly. The last two levels need enough reflection time and trustful interaction which is difficult to reach in hectic times, especially as the relevant person has not only to understand but also to act differently. Managers and leaders under pressure prefer the simple recipes (“The 5 tools to …”).

Future thinking – mission impossible?

The second explanatory approach bases on neurology. Our brain is formed by our experiences. The time span of our present is 3 seconds - then present becomes past, and what has happened some seconds ago is placed in our memory (1). We try to learn for the future and do it from the past. And if we don't like past experiences or feel unable to cope with them, we create illusions (2): Most of us know that many projects fail to achieve their goals. Nevertheless, we continue as usual, agree on unrealistic goals and expect best-case fulfillment. And we feel good because we are socialized in a community of illusionists. We agree on project goals - and know that we will never achieve them. A conflict between project manager and project sponsor or at least a joint exploration on unknown territory (based upon their different professional ambitions and backgrounds) would require more energy, i.e. protein; but our nature is trying to prevent us from wasting this valuable stuff. So, the outcome is pure harmony and the conflict postponed: illusion of feasibility (project manager: we can do it) meets illusion of power (project sponsor: what I say will be done). And if illusionism meets realism? Then we will experience two fundamentalists fighting for their beliefs, or taking each other not serious, or recognizing the opportunity to learn and develop together.

Fig. 1: If we assume two main thinking tendencies and assume the result of every possible combination of the two contrasting pairs "realism - illusion" and "best case thinking - worst case thinking": What does this mean for lessons learned?

Cultural impact

The third explanatory approach bases on the cultural impact. The system of an enterprise is a strong construction with a lot of – conscious and unconscious beliefs and behavioral patterns, like:

  • We are only successful if we show strength: either the figures and performances change (towards what was planned) or the people are exchanged

  • The more pressure we put on something the more probable it will work out

  • We got the assignment of the CEO, so we have to start even without a competent project team

  • It was decided by the upper board

  • The COO believes that the migration is possible – even though many enterprises failed on this task

  • A program like …. is not allowed to cost more than ….

  • We cannot take the needed time as we have to deliver by …. because of competition reasons/the shareholder want it – etc.

There are cultural differences within an organization (between professions, levels, generations etc.) and also at a societal level. Being able to give answers gives you a high status in our society. In other societies, it is understood that good questions are more valuable to create a joint momentum. Singularization and ego-centrism is a societal development in the western world, whereas community and group-thinking is more accepted in the eastern world. Deeply anchored behavioral patterns unfold in crises such as the current corona pandemic.

It makes a lot of sense to explore what reasonable and experienced leaders prevent from using their analytic experience, emotional resources and making a difference in their thinking and acting. System theory says that the system is normally stronger than the person and that changes need a lot of time. But creative steps might start a positive development.

Perception bias

Closely connected with the explanatory approaches described above is the so-called perception bias. The best example is the one connected with all the studies (Gardner, McKinsey, PMI etc.), saying for example that at least 70% of the big transformations fail (and that xy USD are waisted by this). In a decision situation, the responsible managers and leaders have the result of the studies only adapted as information, not as knowledge – perhaps as the system and their career in the system would make another perception dangerous (and anyway, in big systems people try all to take no risk). So, nobody believes that he or she might be in one of the 70% failure situation, everybody believes in success (even if never a similar project or program in the enterprise was successful). The perception bias is one of the most important factors for an unsuccessful knowledge management in the system/the enterprise.

Adults’ learning mechanisms

A further explanatory approaches build on adult’s learning mechanisms. In contrast to children, adults have already gained experiences, acquired concepts, developed expectations, learned to set problem-oriented priorities, developed an image of themselves. Thus, there are some aspects that ease (or hinder) learning (3,4,5). Some typical learning pre-conditions of adults are:

  • Respect for my self-concept

  • Compatibility with my experience

  • Willingness to learn due to my ability and expectation

  • Purpose of learning esp. for solving my problems

We would also add the faculty of imagination and a certain level of abstract thinking. There is also a closer look to behavior models. Humans tend to observe and, if necessary, take over the behavior models of others if they seem useful and easy to adopt.

Such Criteria are:

  • Personal similarity to the model

  • Emotional relationship with the model

  • Successful problem solving by means of the model

  • Higher social status of the model

  • Possibility to exercise new behavior

A similar approach focuses the “cognitive ease” (2) in the transmission of information:

Fig. 2: Cognitive Ease: How to create the access to another individual’s perception?

A first conclusion from the explanatory approaches described

Coming from these findings, we can understand how fundamental, firmly rooted and partly unconscious the obstacles for real learning from lessons learned are - and why there is a widely spread aversion of taking any external advice, e.g. in setting checks by independent experts, even if they are very focused and cost-efficient. It would be sign of strength to get another perspective by self-initiated efforts or by external intervention. But people prefer to stay in their individual, cultural and structural silos and comfort zones. And often, they are not able or willing to build up enough trust – in both cases. So, there is a lot to do.


A Potential Journey: How to Sustainably Better Learn from Lessons Learned

The strength and stability of the learning obstacles described above demand a strong, well-composed, consistent and creative answer. We would prefer to choose a convincing occasion to start the debate. This could be the (annual, quarterly) Lessons Learned Session of an enterprise (on the project portfolio and large programs/ projects) or the (pre-)initiation/conceptualization phase of a large transformation (where lessons learned are crucial for scheduling the endeavor). The setting might be an official Lessons Learned Session, a Transformation Program Kick-off or an unofficial conversation with a group of managers. In any case, there should be a feeling of importance and urgency.

The first step in the chosen occasion, before going into content, might be to make the underlying context transparent at diverse levels and from different perspectives and to commit on the concrete framework and proceeding. So, from our experience, it is useful to create a common understanding about different levels of learning and to be always aware of the level that we have to address to achieve sustainable improvements in our learning behaviors, practices and processes (6,7).

Levels of Learning

It might be often sufficient to be very critically self-reflected but keep everything easiest possible, working with good energy along the well-experienced way and around any meta-levels. This means working at “level 1”: We try to place our perceptions and learnings in our well-developed individual map, with other words: put them into or into “thinking drawers” – which is the easiest way but may hinder mutual understanding (since humans have different thinking maps, cupboards and drawers). If we are aware of the limitation, respect the differences in our individual learning styles and decide that this is no issue in this concrete situation, this may be a possible individual procedure.
Level 2 is more energy and time consuming: We open our thinking and learning map to other ways and practices of thinking and learning which means to go on a personal journey on the unknown territory of other humans’ maps. Finally, we will expand, further develop and adapt our own maps to reach a certain conscious alignment. If we decide like this, we must be aware that the journey will not be simple, linear, that unforeseen things might happen, that we will face different perspectives not experienced to date, etc., but we fully accept. And we understand the journey as a mid-term endeavor.
Or finally, “level 3”: learning and reflecting on our way of developing and handling our inner maps, i.e. learning about our learning. This level is said to be the highest humans can realize. This is a long-term endeavor, we need a lot of energy, discipline, time and patience and the acceptance of high uncertainty about the final outcome in detail. In this case we become able to reach an alignment in the learning styles about our learning.


There are two challenges now: The one is to design more effective Lessons Learned Sessions. The other is more fundamental: How can learning in general be improved? Or concretized: What are the learning obstacles that we need to identify in order to make future Lessons Learned Sessions and their follow-ups more successful? We can name this a Lessons Learned Session, too, but must be aware that it addresses the meta-level of learning.

Therefore, it should be clarified whether a Lessons Learned Session is the right place for fundamental or meta questions or perhaps only for a very focused discussion related to a specific initiative, project or process. The best choice of how to proceed will depend on the concrete challenge to be met, the number of failures in the past, the minimum outcome demanded, the remaining risk to be taken (if not all learning needs can be explored) and the initial situation of the enterprise. In each case, it is extremely helpful to clarify and agree the framing of the Lessons Learned Session and keep it present.

Starting with awareness and a transparent commitment on the framing

It is crucial to start the Lessons Learned process on a meta-level, introducing the fundamental questions and perspectives to be – potentially – regarded. Even if the final decision is to skip the meta-level questions this time, the context to be tackled in general was made aware for the future. One bundle of fundamental questions may refer to the learning obstacles (see above).

The first step is to explore the need for action and challenge:

  • Which lessons learned have been successfully implemented in the past; what were the reasons for success? – And vice versa?

  • What Lesson Learned Sessions have been successfully carried out in the past; what were the reasons for success? – And vice versa?

  • What are the relevant learning obstacles that we should list in our Lessons Learned backlog?

How to organize the work on them? This step is to focus, prioritize and schedule the session:

  • Which of the learning obstacles will be tackled in the discussion & explorations and which not?

  • Which learning obstacles should get priority one or ranked high?

  • How deeply and intensely should they be analyzed?

  • To which extend do we need to collect experiences we made with these obstacles?

  • And finally: How much time and efforts do we want to spend on which obstacle?

The discussion will be a prototype of how effective the implementation of any action plan after the Lessons Learned Session will be. An effective discussion that is both open and careful would best base on questions and respective determinations like:

  • What conflict areas and taboos do we have to address?

  • To which extend are we ready to leave our comfort zone in which area?

  • Where exactly are the boundaries between comfort zone and change zone, change zone and panic zone?

  • Are we ready to give and take personal feedback?

  • And finally: Do we believe in the impact of this session - what will be different this time?

In the following step, the participants start their work on the prioritized learning obstacles:

  • What are the true questions behind the learning obstacle?

  • How ready are we to intensively grapple with these questions?

  • How deeply do we need to dive in conflicts around the obstacle, hidden agendas, taboos, etc.?

  • What are possible answers?

  • What has prevented us from solutions to date – how to make a difference this time?

  • How does all this mean for the design of future Lessons Learned Sessions, preparing activities, the learning process as a whole?

We can make the needed decisions on the degree we want to take the learning obstacles developed above into considerations, using questions like:

  • How to proceed to co-create solutions and make it a success?

  • What does this mean as concrete activities: scope, actors, roles, collective practices, steps and timeline?

  • How to monitor the activities?

  • What items are open, and how to track them in our Lessons Learned Backlog?

  • How do we communicate the results of our session?

  • How to connect them with our general learning process?

There are for sure also other bundles of fundamental questions which could be introduced and discussed. But the selection of the right fundamental questions to be treated is in any case important to prevent that the lessons learned session is only an operational alibi-session with no sustainable impact.

Fig. 3: Potential learning journey with connected loops at two levels: Creating and implementing lessons learned and learning about the learning process which includes the lessons learned format

A recommended initial intervention to allow new perspectives

At the beginning of the Lessons Learned journey, a new perspective should be introduced which might offer a new and different view on recent results of programs and projects and the connected potential learnings. One option for the new perspective could be the 3-Pillar-Model, developed by an international community of experts based on practical experiences and documented in their recent book (8)

The 3-Pillar-Model (or abbreviated 3-P-Model) offers three core principles that help to navigate an organization through the world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). It focuses on how to get committed to a clear direction and belief, how to develop and connect the valuable resources they need to create impact and value. This includes going on the necessary journey – of an enterprise or a part of it, of a program or project etc. even without all final clarifications which means experimenting, prototyping and piloting ideas and approaches to find step by step the right development path and come to the best possible results (even if we weren’t able to specify them from beginning).

The identified and carefully explored three main design principles for this type of modern organization and leadership - which might be very helpful to change the mindset of a system and of people – are described in detail in the box on the right.

Basing on these three mail design principles, the mentioned 3-P-Model was completed in detail, applied and concretized in several cases and holistically described with focus in or with reference to the business world. It is also striking, how well the model can also be applied in the public sector, including international institutions like UN, as we will see shortly in the upcoming next book.

Introducing the 3-P-Model in a Lessons Learned process means to create a new thinking perspective from a meta-level and outside the box. It directly generates questions about the transparency and acceptance of the purpose (of the project portfolio or a concrete program/project), the travelling mindset and capabilities and the ability to manage connectivity.

Applying the 3-P-Model thinking on the own case starts processes which open the perception and analytics of learning to something new but fascinating; details will be described below.

The 3-P-Model puts the first learning focus on the – stable and generalizable - HOW (how to communicate purpose and how not, how to best travel and how not, how to effectively connect and how not) rather than the mostly program/project specific and therefore not easily generalizable WHAT of project portfolios, programs and projects. Learning in order to know in advance the future WHAT (content-wise directions and targets etc.) of initiatives is very limited. But Lessons Learned about the process of organization and transformation, i.e. of HOW to design, start and run portfolios and programs/projects in a concrete setting, of HOW to approach unforeseeable problems and cope with uncertainty, of HOW to keep the balance between individual and organizational assets and needs, of HOW to co-create trust, of HOW to adapt to business needs and e.g., product life-cycles etc. is sustainable.

Of course, there are also other options to introduce new perspectives which can be taken (as the Setting Check concept (10) or the activity-centered organization development approach (11)), as long as they are not only “toolboxes”. The 3-P-model makes a difference because it is based upon many years professional experience and concentrates on pillars and questions that have to be worked with the companies’ specific needs, analyses and results.


A brief introduction to the 3-P-Model (9)
Sustainable purpose: The people in the organization and the stakeholders in their ecosystem need to know what the organization stands for and which sustainable value it is creating. The purpose has to remain stable, reliable and inspirational to the employees and stakeholders. Key representatives of the organization have to live the purpose as role model. Or in other words: the purpose is giving clear and convincing orientation, inspiration and confidence for the joint endeavor, making the people proud to be part of it and contribute to it. It provides the people with a strong and binding core when structural boundaries open up.
Travelling organization: Business consistency, strategic stability and structural continuity, with change projects from time to time? This has long been an illusion in disruptive and crisis-ridden times. Now, we have to understand that organiza­tions continuously are on a journey, following their purpose, always exploring the best path between poles, alternatives and options. If the teams don’t know what to face around the next bend, they have to make smaller steps and explore the land. Even if they don’t know in advance what the best result will be they will achieve it, believing in their motivation and capabilities to manage the journey, relying in their agile mindset, self-reflection, readiness to embrace change and willingness to deliver. People in a travelling organization are curious, open, courageous and experimental, and they cope well with uncertainty, stress, unforeseen incidents.
Connecting resources: The organization has to be aware that impact, value and efficiency need connectivity between individuals, between people and organizations or institutions, between diverse global experts and influences, between different political and social systems and cultures etc. between ways of working and customer needs, between strategy and skills. This means managing connectivity, preventing unconnected structural silos, boxed competencies, focusing on multilateral incentives and behaviors. And there is one additional huge advantage: only with an intelligent and flexible connectivity is it possible to balance the (increasingly) different interests between its multiple key stakeholders. This is a systemic asset that is not to be underestimated.


The operational implementation of a Lessons Learned Session as good practice

The learning process including its various lessons learned practices has to be designed and committed across all organizational levels and areas. This includes purpose, goals and expected results, sponsorship, leadership, participation, roles & responsibilities, proceeding, events etc. The ambition and procedure have to be absolutely transparent. There are processes, meetings, situations and moments that give or take energy for this journey. Taking energy means failing the opportunity. Learning needs positive energy, cognitive inspiration, emotional momentum and respect to the people involved (see above). We have to take this into account when we design a process or meeting for lessons learned. They are role models of truth, openness, transparency, giving and taking feedback, taking responsibility, implement follow-up actions to communicate and ensure the implementation of lessons learned. Finally, take into regard: Situations are not only situations – they are always a magnifying glass on the organization as a whole.


Exemplary Case


  • Learning culture and process to be established in a company with hierarchical culture.

  • Implementing Lessons Learned practices seem to be a good starting point.

  • Long-term view: All employees should be able and ready to initiate and facilitate Lessons Learned events.

Organizational set-up

  • Sponsor: Company Owner

  • Driver Team: Management Board

  • Support Team: Beginning with external consultants, transfer to internal OD/HR experts

  • Facilitators: all leaders, later also team members, beginning with selected line managers and project managers

  • Participants: all teams, no exception

Procedure, to be developed and managed in learning loops

  1. Board Meeting for creating commitment on the need for action, goal and procedure of the challenge

  2. Introduction to the 3-P-model (8) for identifying key questions and impulses for the joint journey

  3. Co-creating a learning process, focusing on Lessons Learned Sessions in a variety of appropriate formats: as internal sessions, as Setting Checks with internal experts, as Experience Exchange workshops etc.

  4. Implementation of Lessons Learned Sessions as exemplary learning format in the Management Board, incl. Owner

  5. Action plan for transferring the process and architecture to the wider organization

  6. Prioritization of application in line functions, processes and projects with highest need

  7. Addressing and training leaders as learning facilitators and being role models

  8. Coaching them in their new roles

  9. Carrying out and supervising Lessons Learned Sessions

  10. Evaluation with leaders and teams (learning loop concerning practical application)

  11. Retrospectives on the implementation process at all levels (learning loop at meta-level)


Exemplary Agenda of a Quarterly Lessons Learned Session

Focusing (2 min)

The owner, coordinator or facilitator of the meeting introduces to the goal of the meeting and scope of consideration

Feelings are facts (8 min)

The participants quantify their happiness level concerning the project, process or function (e.g. scale 1…10)

Working course (5 min)

The team leader or any other team member reminds the working course during the last three months (only facts: what happened when, who was involved, what results were achieved) as reference line; the other participants are free to add facts from their memory.

Individual evaluation (15-30 min)

Each participant (individually or/and in groups) reflects: what did they experienced as helpful or obstructive in terms of success, efficiency, motivation etc. and what seems worth analyzing as Lesson Learned. Adding a personal temperature curve to the working course can be helpful. A checklist e.g. from 3-P-model (see above) can support the identification of relevant issues.

Common evaluation (30 min)

The participants collect and summarize their findings in the plenary, ensure a shared understanding of issues and set priorities: which issues are most relevant for their function, process or project as well as for wider organization development?

Analysis (60-120 min)

They analyze their findings via Micro Stories, Peer Consulting or creative tools (Crazy Thinking, diverse analogies, musical or artistic representation) (groups or plenary); in the end their lessons learned are fixed: headline – story – problem – solutions

Action plan (30-45 min)

They share the outcomes, commit on the need for action, coordinate action plans and action monitoring (what, when, who with whom, how to control); documentation online.

Total time: 2,5-4,0 hrs (estimated in case of strict moderation)


Learnings from a concrete 3-P-Model application in form of a virtual journey walk-through

The application of the 3-P-Model has always to be tailor-made, so the evaluation questions have to be flexibly cut to the concrete setting. That means that they are on a quite general level, and it makes sense to concretize them when they are to be asked in a concrete organizational/program/project situation. The questions are structured according to different areas connecting with different phases of a journey. We are showing the high-level version, a lot more detailed version is available.


  • How far did you explore the VUCA world with your team?

  • Could you create a shared understanding?

  • Is there a real commitment on a sustainable purpose?

  • Is the transformation process transformation process sufficiently designed?


  • To which degree are teams and individuals involved and convinced?

  • Could an agile mindset be developed? To which degree?

  • Are differences in opinions and working styles used as learning opportunities?

  • How is the exchange on the impact of the endeavor organized?


  • Are all resources with each other effectively and efficiently connected? How do you get evidence on this?

  • To which extend is silo thinking overcome towards solution working?

  • Are the different working styles in teams well connected?

  • What is the outcome of the exploration of various mindsets, experiences, expectations?


  • How is leadership as serving function realized?

  • To which degree is leadership practice connected to the purpose?

  • How is the communication about new policies and daily work organized?

  • Is there sufficient care for psychological safety from collective behavior?


  • To which degree are portfolio and your program/project/roadmap aligned to the purpose?

  • Has an agile communication platforms & practices been set-up?

  • To which degree are liberating interventions applied?

  • How is success evaluated and new practices calibrated?


  • Is your recruiting focus on people with curiosity, openness & agility?

  • Is there a climate of encouraging to taking roles & managing processes?

  • To which degree are feedback and learning procedures installed?

  • Is there a concept in place to evaluate success and calibrate the development?

The working on such questions leads to an intensive discussion and to lessons learned along all phases of a travelling organization. So, it is a kind of concrete walk through the transformation (like in a movie). It ranges from the start phase to the continuation in a new quality of agile organization.

If the questions are asked regularly, we can see how the learning processes and the capabilities of the organization develop which they need in an uncertain and disruptive environment.

A company, its teams, and the people who conduct this kind of continuous evaluation are less prone to learning obstacles, perception biases, conflict postponing, and frustration due to lack of connectedness in the journey.


Conclusions and Final Remarks

The authors examined diverse dimensions of learning of individuals, teams and organizations also evaluating their many years of professional experience. The overall context is far more complex then normally assumed. To optimize learning therefore means

  • To reflect and evaluate the learning process, learning initiatives and learning impact in the organization

  • To intensively examine the impact of different learning patterns

  • To carefully check what the diverse learning obstacles mean for the own context and organization

  • To always explore and introduce new perspectives which can open up for new learning dimensions

  • To consistently clarify and decide the concrete framework for learning for both, the whole learning journey and each singe learning or lessons learned session

  • To develop a culture of trust, of openness for challenging own comfort zone thinking, of being curious for new insights

As knowledge is the most valuable resource of the future, it is very reasonable to invest in its development.


Reader Feedback

J.S. (Ex-Vorstand Dax-Unternehmen):

"Die Paradoxien, die Sie beschreiben, sind in der Tat verblüffend. Alle wissen um den hohen Anteil gescheiterter Projekte. Alle stellen sich vor, die typischen Fehler zu vermeiden. Und meistens werden in der Tat genau die selben Fehler wiederholt. Persönlich hatte ich mir hier offen gestanden eine Art realistischen Fatalismus' angeeignet. Am Ende meiner aktiven Managerzeit wusste ich halt, dass alles komplexer ist als erwartet und man dem auch nur begrenzt entgegenwirken kann. Wir und die Projektmitarbeiter sind halt nicht lauter Tausendsassas, sondern fleißige Männer und Frauen mit ordentlichen Fähigkeiten und einer Fülle anderer Aufgaben, die man ihnen zwar ersparen möchte, aber nicht kann, weil immer neue Probleme an anderer Stelle aufkommen. Solche Verfahrensweisen sind ineffizient, aber einfach untrennbar mit unserer menschlichen Unvollkommenheit verbunden. Umso besser, dass Sie mit Ihrem Beitrag in erfreulich knapp gefasster Form, vor allem auf den kurzen Listen, die Kardinaltugenden und Werkzeuge wiederholen, deren Einsatz zumindest eine Schadensbegrenzung mit sich bringt."

D.E. (Chief Transformation Officer):

"Artikel finde ich sehr gut. Der Hauptknackpunkt warum die „Lessons Learned“ nicht zum gewünschten Erfolg führen ist für mich dass meist das „Anreizsystem“ versagt. Es gibt zuwenig Konsequenzen, im Guten wie Schlechten. Es „lohnt“ sich schlichtweg für die nicht intrinsisch motivierten Personen nicht auf die Lessons learned zurückzugreifen und die Learnings anzuwenden. Die Konsequenz ist, dass damit Fehler immer wieder gemacht werden und die Performance der Firma darunter leidet"

R.P. (Portfolio Manager bei einem internationalen Finanzdienstleister):

"... Meiner Meinung nach ist das Hauptproblem der Lessons Learned Sessions, dass es keinen unmittelbaren Handlungsbedarf oder Applikation gibt. Was typischerweise gut funktionieren kann sind “Retrospektives” in agilen Verfahren, wo man die Lessons learned im Hinblick auf den nächsten Sprint diskutiert (also mit klarer Applikation und man weiss, man spricht in 2-3 Wochen wieder darüber) und auch in den Kontext von Performance setzt (z.B. in dem das Team selber die Velocity über Zeit und damit den Fortschritt misst) - ebenso hilfreich ist die Rolle des Scrum Master der dies orchestriert. Eine Lesson learned sollte meiner Meinung nach einen messbaren Fortschritt zeigen oder offensichtliche Missstände beseitigen (z.B. in Themen Produkt/Output, Prozess oder People). Ein Beispiel ist wenn ein Projekt 20% mehr oder billiger liefern kann, was sind die Lessons learned um dies in einem anderen Projekt anzuwenden - und ich kann dann messen, ob ein Fortschritt in einem anderen Projekt erzielt wurde. Lessons learned ohne Fortschritt können sehr schnell allgemein werden oder sich auf People Dinge reduzieren (wenn nur People Dinge da sind, dann wäre ein Team Dynamics Workshop sowieso besser…). Die Lessons learned müssen also selber per se ein Resultat/Anwendung haben, sonst hat niemand die Motivation etwas zu lernen, weil man ja nicht weiss was dann damit konkret passiert"



(1) Pöppel, E.: Grenzen des Bewusstseins. Insel-Verlag, Berlin 1997

(2) Kahneman, D.: Thinking, Fast and Slow. Penguin, München 2012

(3) Bandura, A.; Walters, R.H.: Social Learning and Personality Development.

Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York 1963

(4) Knowles, M.: The Adult Learner. Gulf Publishing, Houston 1973

(5) Hehn, S.; Cornelissen, N.I.; Braun: Kulturwandel in Organisationen.

Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2016

(6) Tosey, P.: Bateson’s Levels of Learning: A Framework for Transformative

Learning? Paper presented at: Human Resource Development Conference, Tilburg, 5/2006

(7) Kühn, F.; Kempf, M.; Chamberlain, J.: The Concept of Purpose, Travelling, and

Connectivity. In: Wollmann, P.; Kühn, F.: Kempf, M. (Ed.): Three Pillars of

Organization and Leadership in Disruptive Times - Navigating Your Company

Successfully through the 21st Century Business World. Springer,

Berlin/Heidelberg 2020

(8) Dignen, B.; Wollmann, P. (Ed.): Leading International Projects – Diverse strategies for project success. Kogan Page, London/New York/New Dehli 2016

(9) Wollmann, P.; Kühn, F.: Kempf, M. (Ed.): Three Pillars of Organization and Leadership in Disruptive Times - Navigating Your Company Successfully through

the 21st Century Business World. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2020

(10) Wollmann, P.; Kühn, F.; Kempf, M.; Püringer, R. (Ed.): Three Pillars of

Organization and Leadership in Disruptive Times – Workbook. In preparation.

(11) Türke, R.E.: Governance - Systemic Foundation and Framework.

Physica/ Springer, Heidelberg 2008


bottom of page