Lessons Management

Module Intentions

  1. Gain an understanding of the language linked with Lessons Management
  2. Gain an overview of the Governance structures in Emergency Management in Tasmania
  3. Understand the importance of fostering a learning culture in Lessons Management
  4. Gain awareness of the principles of managing Lessons
  5. Identify the key National and State resources/tools that reflect emerging trends in Lessons Management.

Why do you need to know about Lessons Management?

⮚The knowledge acquired from completing this module will enable you to gain an understanding of Lessons Management principles and processes

⮚Knowledge of Lessons Management processes will provides stakeholders with an awareness of the importance of engaging in Lessons Management within your organisation.

When will I apply the knowledge gained from completing this module?

⮚The information is for everyone in the Emergency Management sector that has a responsibility for contributing to Lessons Management.

What is Lessons Management?

The Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience Lessons Management Handbook defines Lessons Management as an overarching term that refers to collecting, analysing, disseminating and applying
learning experiences from events, exercises, programs and reviews.


An approach informed by events

To put Lessons Management into context Tasmania has adopted a whole-of-nation, resilience-based approach to emergency management. Experience gained and lessons identified from prior events that have occurred within the State and elsewhere have shaped the State’s capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. International and National events over the past two decades highlight the devastation caused by natural, technological and (human) behavioural-related emergencies. The consequences of climate change and increasing risks have contributed to Australia adopting a comprehensive and all hazards approach to emergency management. Tasmania has integrated emergency management arrangements which apply to any emergency event in this State, no matter what the cause.

Who needs to learn Lessons?

In Tasmania Lessons Management is targeted at all the relevant people within an organisation, particularly those with a responsibility for implementing and managing Lessons within their organisations. It must be remembered that Lessons Managers are not the only stakeholders in learning the lessons and they may not hold positions in an organisation that carry the authority to enact the changes required for the organisation to change a lesson identified to a lesson learned.

Therefore, the involvement of all key stakeholders of an organisation need to be involved in learning lessons for Lessons Management to be successful. Lessons Management can be implemented at:

  • Individual
  • Team
  • Organisational
  • Community
  • Strategic levels.

The presence of a lessons process should be seen as a tool to support organisational improvement and learning and as a measure of maturity. The implementation of change requires that action is taken on the lessons identified and the usual issues of change management need to be considered.


When is a Lesson learned?

Lessons that require change cannot be shown to be ‘learned’ until there is a demonstrated behavioural or organisational change. For example, the lesson could be tested in a simulated exercise or in an actual event. Management of lessons from previous events should support the ability of people and organisations to take previous knowledge and apply it to managing various situations, some of which may not have been faced before.

When is a Lesson NOT learned?

Not all issues that emerge during and after events are ‘lessons’ that can be ‘learned.’ Some issues are ‘wicked problems’ which (we will discuss ‘wicked problems’ further on in the module) does not mean they can be ignored but sometimes mitigating the risk is the best that can be achieved. Statements such as ‘we will learn all the lessons from this event’ can create unrealistic expectations that during catastrophic events it is possible for every aspect of operations to run smoothly. Regardless of how the lessons come to be viewed, it is important for organisations to reflect on an event to share experiences and learnings.

What is the difference between a ‘Lesson’, a ‘Lesson identified’ and a ‘Lesson learned’?

A Lesson is a generic term referring to knowledge and understanding gained by experience. The experience maybe an opportunity for improvement. Successes and failure are both considered sources of lessons. The experience may be positive (recognising a good practice) or negative (an opportunity to improve). Successes and failures are both considered sources of lessons. Lessons learned embodies two interrelated concepts:

  1. The identification of the lesson (lesson identified),
  2. The learning (lesson learned), or change that results (implementation and associated change).

Identifying a lesson does not automatically mean it will be learned. In some models, the terms ‘lesson’, ‘lesson identified’ and ‘lesson learned’ are used interchangeably.

Click below to watch the Introduction to Lessons Management video: