I was recently listening to the news, when the story was interrupted by an advertisement for a local hospital. A mature and wise-sounding man shared his thoughts: “I like to learn lessons. I learn something every day and it keeps me alive!” This message resonated with me, because I am a believer in “Lessons Learned,” a way of thinking that helps keep me alive and keeps my work improving.
What is this way of thinking, exactly? Basically it boils down to this: we all learn something new every day and we should take time to reflect on our “Lessons Learned” – on the wisdom we have gained over time, and on the things we learned the hard way.
Everyone and anyone can benefit from the daily practice and mentality of “Lessons Learned.” When we live by this philosophy, our organizations grow stronger, our teams are better cultivated and individual staff members recognize that their team cares about the quality of their work and the quality of the processes which impact their work environment.
Of course we don’t live in a world where no one ever repeats past mistakes. However, we can try to improve our behavior by instigating “Lessons Learned” discussions with our teammates and coworkers. In these discussions, the goal is to answer some broad questions: Do we practice what we know to be true? Do we share what we’ve learned? Do we act upon these “Lessons Learned” to improve our business practices and avoid repeating our past mistakes?
As leaders, it’s our responsibility to facilitate these “Lessons Learned” discussions, inspire people to engage in these discussions and effectively identify actions to improve. Most people will not do this on their own. Oh, no, they’ll complain about what went wrong, and whose fault it was. But most will not turn the problem into a learning opportunity – they just insert it into the complaint box!
So what can you do? Hear their complaint, and then challenge this complaint. What was the root cause? What can we do better in the future? How do we make this happen? Who will make this happen? When will this happen?
“Lessons Learned” discussions should not be isolated to criticisms of the mistakes that have been identified; we can also learn lessons from the things we have done well. Where have we achieved our greatest successes and why were we successful? The tangible factors contributing to the success should be identified and incorporated into the best business practice. Encourage your team to do everything possible to repeat past successes.
As a leader within the school community, you are likely already doing this and, if so, I applaud your efforts. This behavior makes you are a role model within your organization and the school community as a whole.
The practice of “Lessons Learned” should be more than a periodic exercise. “Lessons Learned” should be a daily mentality. It all circles back to the words of the aforementioned man in the commercial – “I like to learn lessons. I learn something every day and it keeps me alive!”
What lessons have you learned today? Ask yourself – who else can benefit from my “lesson learned”? It’s your responsibility to share your growing wisdom!
If your school district is actively implementing a SIS solution for the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, below is our May 1st SIS Implementation status report.
Congratulations on your accomplishments thus far!
Project tasks likely completed by 5/1/2013:
Data Conversion Progress √
System Administration & System Setup Training Series √
End User Training √
eLearning Planning √
Start of School Support Planning √
Communicate to SIS Project Stakeholders on Project Progress and Training Plans √
Celebrate April accomplishments!!
Project tasks planned for 5/1/2013-5/31/2013:
Data Conversion Progress – Prepare for end of school year data transfer tasks (Academic History, Health, Discipline, Test Scores, etc.)
End User Training , continued
Integration Configuration and Testing
Grade Reporting Configuration and Testing
Communication to SIS Project Stakeholders on Project Progress, Training Plans and Go Live Plans
Celebrate May Accomplishments!!