A Holistic Approach to Lessons Learned



Book Title: A Holistic Approach to Lessons Learned: How Organizations Can Benefit from Their Own Knowledge
Author:  Moria Levy
Publisher:  CRC Press
List Price:   $59.95
Format: Hardback, 145 pages
Publication Date: Jan 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1138564763
Reviewer: Anna Bartlett
Review Date: June 2022



The book A Holistic Approach to Lessons Learned: How Organizations Can Benefit from Their Own Knowledge details from research and the author’s experience the components to a comprehensive lessons learned management practice and practical steps for how to implement this.

Moria Levy’s premise of having a holistic approach to organizational performance improvements by lessons learned management is emphasized because isolated methods, such as debriefing, task management or procedures updates, do not achieve actual improvement. Levy’s presented model focuses on creating and implementing a full life-cycle management of lessons and good practices in the organization. This includes knowledge creation, refinement, and integration into the organizational environment in ways that empower utilization.

Overview of Book’s Structure

Chapter one discusses the challenges and repeat losses organizations experience that could be mitigated by lesson learning and management. Chapters two through five discuss ways to create knowledge, including: methods for producing lessons, sources of knew knowledge, complementary learning tools, and the most overlooked source of knowledge, experience. Chapters six and seven cover how to process the knowledge gathered and how processing must go beyond isolated tasks and changes. Chapter six details how the process should include unique long-term actions, short-term tasks, and medium-term change management. This chapter also identifies that the management for each of these is unique, and not clearly separating and managing these three categories has negative impact on the organization. Chapter seven dives deeper into managing and refining the created knowledge, detailing ways to maximize accessibility to lessons learned by using a knowledgebase.

The remainder of the book focuses on how to incorporate the knowledge and lessons learned into the organizational environment. Chapter eight shares that solutions for instilling knowledge into the organizational environment will need to be customized to fit the needs of the organization. This chapter includes methods and tools that can be used as described or inspire other solutions. Chapter nine describes methods for not only making knowledge easily accessible by employees, but also empowering employees to implement the knowledge prior to future actions being taken.

Chapters 10-12 focus on practical steps for implementing this model of lesson learning and management into the organization. Topics covered include: gaining buy-in from management, ways of implementing change management, and key roles and responsibilities for supporting the new model. Chapter 13 closes out the book with a summarized high-level overview of key take-aways from each chapter.


Some of the key points Levy makes to be considered when working to establish or grow a lessons learned management practice are that the greatest barrier to this practice is a lack of available time—perceived or actual—to invest in the life-cycle of lessons learned management; however, lessons learned management does not have to be excessively time consuming. All lessons learned should be managed by one person. A senior manager should be the one to identify tasks and lessons from a recommendation. Lessons may be relevant to many cases, not only cases similar to the context during which the original lesson was learned…


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How to cite this book review: Bartlett, A. (2022). A Holistic Approach to Lessons Learned: How Organizations Can Benefit from Their Own Knowledge, book review, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VIII, August. Available online at: https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/pmwj120-Aug2022-Bartlett-A-Holistic-Approach-To-Lessons-Learned-book-review.pdf

About the Reviewer

Anna Bartlett

Maryland, USA


Anna Bartlett is a certified Project Management Processional (PMP) with detailed experience providing inception-to-extinction management of IT projects and a diverse background in corporate change management, communications, and publication management. Currently Bartlett serves as a Project and Change Management Associate supporting the USA National Institutes of Health Business System Program Management Office. Bartlett is a member of the Silver Spring MD Chapter of PMI.

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