Process management

Mark Borchers markb at
Wed Jul 8 15:18:39 UTC 1998

Sean Donelan wrote:
> We really need to work on communicating the lessons learned.  The U.S.
> Military has a wonderful web site on 'lessons learned' which they update
> almost every day.  If you are cynical, you might say that just shows the
> military makes mistakes almost every day.  On the other hand, if the
> lessons are really learned, it means every day there is one less mistake
> which will occur in the future.
Having been there, I can state that military lessons-learned efforts
are partially effective.

Many of the lessons-learned get a cursory reading, are quickly forgotten,
and mistakes are repeated.

However, the lessons learned that are incorporated into operational
checklists (another pet tool in the military) really do help prevent
future mistakes. 
> >There apparently have been several organizations developed recently that
> >claim to be attempting to address this problem.  However, I have not seen
> >an industry-wide affect by the operations of these organizations. 
As a heirarchical organization, the military has a huge machinery in place
to review and revise operating procedures all the time and disseminate
them in the form of checklist revisions.  An example would be NATOPS,
which provides naval aviation with procedures for everything from dealing
with the loss of an engine, to making a normal landing, to refueling.

I can't imagine this practice being replicated on an industry-basis. But
operating procedures at a company level, in a checklist format, could 
benefit from an industry-wide clearinghouse for lessons learned.

Following checklists for everything can take the fun out of a job in
a hurry, because they have a natural tendency to evolve into excruciatingly
detailed documents and turn the operator into an automaton.  However,
they can be indispensable in times of various types of predictable
crises and emergencies.  

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