Forum success captures growing influence of lessons management

The 2019 Lessons Management Forum introduced an engaged and mostly new audience to the concept of lessons management, bringing thought and discussion from across sectors together in Sydney for two days.

The 2019 Lessons Management Forum brought more than 130 delegates and presenters, from a broad range of sectors and locations, together for two days in Sydney. The forum was generously supported and sponsored by the NSW Office of Emergency Management

This year, the driving theme of the forum was are we learning? which sparked discussion on lessons, insights, frameworks, communications, capabilities and leadership.

Keynote speakers from sectors such as defence, health, air services, transport, federal agencies and fire and emergency shared their learning, insights and perspectives on effective lessons management. The conversation covered contributing elements such as culture, trends, recovery, learnings, research utilisation and innovative operational capability.

The 2019 Lessons Management Forum drew a large crowd in Sydney.

A poll conducted with forum participants indicated that the majority in attendance were fresh to the lessons management field. Less than a third of the forum were active lessons management practitioners or professionals, with the majority either knowing a ‘thing or two’ about lessons management (39 per cent) or being completely new to the field (31 per cent). 

In another poll, attendees were asked to identify words and phrases that had impact for them during the forum. Terms – such as trust, culture, learning, community, culture change, storytelling and before action review – emerged that captured the essence of the lessons management process and organisational learning.

Lessons Management Forum attendees shared the phrases that held impact for them

Presenters from across jurisdictions shared their own experiences from incidents and operations, providing insights into successful approaches that have been made to lessons management. A video presentation from David Oberhettinger from NASA was popular with forum attendees. Mr Oberhettinger outlined the lessons practices that have proven effective at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The video was followed by a live cross for a Q&A session. Another highlight was a video presentation from Travis Dotson from the Wildfire Lessons Learned Center in the US, who spoke about how they have gone about developing a process for effective sharing of lessons.

The new Lessons Management Handbook, from the Australian Disaster Resilience Handbook Collection, was launched by Rob Cameron, Director-General Emergency Management Australia. During the course of the forum, many speakers referred to the Lessons Management Handbook as an invaluable resource in setting up and supporting their lessons management processes. The Lessons Management Handbook and companion resources are available on the Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub. 

Emergency Management Australian Director-General Rob Cameron launches the Lessons Management Handbook at the Forum.

The AFAC Lessons Management Award 2019 was presented to the Emergency Management Unit of the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) in Queensland. With just three staff – Mark Ryan, Mark Prime and Sarndra Bell-Clews – the Emergency Management Unit affirmed the concept that size doesn’t matter. They designed and developed an effective emergency management framework to implement a culture of objective driven exercising that is led from previous learnings and reported live during operations. The Lessons Management Award was again made possible this year by the generous support of ISW, a recognised leader in lessons management software solutions.

From L to R: James Ewan, Software Engineer, ISW Development; Louise Mills, Service Delivery Manager, ISW Development; and the winners of the 2019 Lessons Management Award, Mark Prime and Mark Ryan from the Emergency Management Unit, Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.
The Lessons Management Forum was followed by a two-day Lessons Analysis Workshop. Insights and lessons from the forum were analysed at the workshop to identify recurring, potential and emerging insights and lessons across sectors and jurisdictions. The outcomes of will drive Emergency Management Australia’s pre-season briefings which are conducted across the country.

For more information about Lessons Management, explore the Lessons Management Handbook and Lessons Management Collection on the Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub.