Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lessons Learned

Could a “Lessons Learned” be related to a “Teachable Moment”?

While I was still trying desperately hard to earn my pay as a part of the Defense community, my corporation implemented its Systems Engineering website as: Process, Procedures, Tools, and Lessons Learned. Or something similar. There were no Lessons Learned from the past but there was a new database application to record future lessons learned.

My doctorate is in experimental elementary particle physics and my specialty was strong interactions. This was the branch of physics that collected lots of data (bubble chamber photographs), processed them, and then looked for statistical anomalies in the results.

Accelerators, detection devices, and computers were state-of-the-art technology but they were just tools. The information was in the data.

I shared the experience of many during recent decades: I prepared numerous resumes for the newly developed (again) Corporate Database. In 2001, I expressed displeasure with my academic department for sending me a form to provide information for the new department database that was included in the label on the envelope in which the form was received.

I excelled in FORTRAN but I also learned to appreciate COBOL. My working community seemed to like IDEF0; I liked IDEF1X. BPwin was favored by business people; I liked ERwin. My co-workers worked on Conventional Planning and Execution and JDS (Joint Deployment System); I worked on RUM (Resource and Unit Monitoring) and UNIREP.

I have been trained (or learned) that the signal is in the data.

I believe one of the quotes sometimes attributed to Yogi Berra is, “You can hear a lot by just listening.”

If you just listened to a Breitbart interview on CNN, you would have heard that the tape wasn’t about Shirley Sherrod; it was about the NAACP. If you just listened to the “excerpted “tape, you could hear many in the audience chuckle. That was supposed to be the “message” the blogger wanted us to hear.

The Shirley Sherrod incident illustrates the Fog of War. Since it’s not a real war, collateral damage to Shirley Sherrod can be minimized. In a real war, few victims are as lucky.

Gen. Lewis W. Walt, USMC, had a reputation for relieving officers of their command. His view was to protect the units by getting rid of all the bad officers. There were enough good Marines that could fill in for the good ones that were relieved.

“Teachable Moments” may have the same experience as Lessons Learned. People have suggested changing the name to “Lessons Observed”. The rationale is that it is a more descriptive title. The lesson may be observed (possibly, again) but we don’t seem to be able to Learn It. Would the more accurate description for Teachable Moments be “Regrettable Moments”?


No comments:

Post a Comment