Lessons Management Lifecycle

According to the AIDR Lessons Management Handbook, 2019, the Lessons Management Lifecycle consists of 4 phases which are key to identifying, sharing and learning lessons. It is a component of Knowledge Management that seeks to introduce good practice and improvement opportunities for organisational systems and processes. It refers to collecting, analysing and sharing experiences from operations, exercises, programs, training and reviews (including Near Misses).

The 4 phases of the Lessons Management Lifecycle (AIDR) are revealed in the flow chart and accordion below-click to reveal:


Collection of observations and insights from experiences.

Analysis of observations and insights to develop lessons that can be learned.


Implementation involves assessing lessons for implementation, communicating the lessons so that others can benefit, making and sustaining the changes.

Monitoring implementation involves monitoring and measuring the changes to validate the lesson has been learned.

Communication and Engagement in Managing Lessons

One-and two-way communication

Ongoing communication at every level, within an organisation, between organisations, across the sector and with the broader community, is an important aspect of a successful Lessons Management process. Communication is important throughout the Lessons Management Cycle and organisations need to be clear about the type of communication and when to apply each method. Examples of the critical roles that communications play in Lessons Management include:

  • Ensuring role clarity
  • Managing expectations
  • Promoting morale
  • Sharing lessons
  • Implementing the framework for a Lessons Management process.

Developing a Communication Plan

A Communication Plan identifies the types of information to be delivered, who will receive it, the format for communicating it and the timing of its distribution. The starting point for a Communication Plan is to identify your stakeholders and analyse their requirements. It is important that the information needs of the stakeholders be determined early in the planning phase of Lessons Management so that as the process grows in size and complexity the communication strategy can be adjusted to meet their needs.

Consideration should also be given to external and community stakeholders, as they could be important to the process.

Stakeholder Engagement

The collection phase of the Lessons Management Cycle is a critical time to engage stakeholders in two-way communication to capture feedback about the event. However, two-way communication can occur at any point in the Lessons Cycle. External stakeholders will have different levels of involvement. At various stages they can be informed, consulted or collaborated with, or be active participants.

1. Clear, accurate and timely communication
2. Accessible and inclusive
3. Transparent
4. Measurable.
(QLD GEM 2014)


A key step in the Lessons Management Cycle is collecting stories and experiences from people involved in the event. This collection is not limited to post-activity and can occur before or during an event.

  • The timing and method for data collection needs to be considered when planning for the activity.
  • One of the aims of debriefing is for people to communicate the experiences they had during the event so that observations can be identified.
  • In some instances, the informal debrief process will identify work practices that can be modified immediately. However, these need to be captured for broader consideration, validation, prioritisation and implementation.

The debrief process should be guided by an organisational protocol that encourages learning and uses common terms which include:

  • Interviews
  • Debriefs
  • Facilitated learning analysis/learning reviews.

In Australia, most of these terms can mean different things to different agencies or individuals. Many agencies will conduct debriefs at the end of an operation or shift. Regardless of the terms used, organisations need to be clear about what they mean and how they fit within the lessons process.

Approach to debriefs

Debriefing is more than simply producing a report at the end of a meeting. It is a part of the process of learning and can have a powerful influence on the organisation and the people involved. It can educate and motivate people, and give them a sense of ownership of the outcomes.

It can prevent future confusion on organisational priorities and philosophies, give confidence to the affected community, and drive home the main point of Lessons Management – that we learn from our experience. When and how to debrief -Organisations wishing to adopt a Lessons Management approach need to develop suitable guidelines to determine in which circumstances debriefs may be required.

Principles of a Lessons Management Framework

Principles are critical factors in enabling the implementation of a successful Lessons Management Framework. While recognising the national principles of Lessons Management, entities from the Tasmanian Emergency Management sector acknowledge the importance of designing principles which will inform Tasmania’s Framework. To ensure consistency, these need to be aligned with the National principles.

  • Governance
  • Enabling environment
  • Engagement
  • Learning culture
  • Tools
  • Lessons Management Lifecycle.

Developing a Lessons Management Framework

AIDR 2019, suggests that while Lessons Management frameworks will have many similarities, there is no ‘one size fits all’. Organisations and/or jurisdictions are encouraged to consider the needs of their operating environment when creating a Lessons Management framework. When underpinned by the Lessons Management principles, a framework will foster the development of:

  1.  Strong governance evident in leadership and a commitment to the process
  2. Consistent methodology for Lessons Management communication and engagement that meets the needs of the organisational and external stakeholders
  3. Capability planning and development that meets current and future requirements, including technological considerations
  4. A learning culture that promotes positive change and continuous improvement.

EM-LEARN Victorian Framework-an example

Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) suggests Lessons Management involves the identification and learning of lessons captured through assurance and learning activities (including debriefing, monitoring and reviews) occurring before, during and after emergencies.

This process of moving from identifying lessons to learning lessons is guided by the Lessons Management life cycle within the EM-LEARN Framework, which aims to provide a shared understanding of what Lessons Management means for the Emergency Management sector. Lessons Management is about giving people the opportunity to share their experiences and learn from others to ensure we continuously improve into the future.

The long-term vision is for Lessons Management to support assurance and learning processes and activities for all communities, all hazards, all phases, all agencies and all levels, to support behaviour change, future service delivery planning and improving organisational performance.

In November 2015, Victoria’s first sector-wide lessons management framework, EM-LEARN, was approved. This framework is an excellent example of a Lessons Management Framework and can be adapted by other agencies within Emergency Management for continuous learning.

The EMV Lessons Management Lifecycle is based on research and defines cultural characteristics and Lessons Management process.