David Skyrme reflects on his work as a KM consultant in Knowledge Reflections (1): Lessons from the Past. This set of bullets suggests ways to keep lessons learned documents from becoming dusty "shelfware."
- Create well-structured and interesting knowledge assets - a common format helps create familiarity; it also lends itself to tagging sections with attributes that aid retrieval; adding a video clip of a real situation brings home an important point.
- Provide relevant contextual material - a lesson should be put into its context; an abstract should explain its essence and where it is applicable - what problem? what organizational context? to achieve what objective? and so on. Provide a structure (or metadata) for users (and search/retrieval tools) to filter relevant lessons (see the example of Beep in Knowledge Digest).
- Provide pointers to people - some of the best knowledge transfer takes place not through reading passive assets, but through active knowledge exchange. This can be through communities of practice, but also from direct pointers to experts from the relevant lessons.
- Encourage user feedback - how often do you change your buying decisions (e.g. on Amazon.com) after you read what your peers have said. For lessons learned this can go further in that additional experiences can be used to update the authoritative guidance.
- Build the lessons into your business processes and guidance - in the military (the originator of After Action Reviews and a strong advocate of lessons learned), lessons are analyzed and later
The rest of the article makes for some good reading too.