Unpacking ‘lessons learned’: investigating failures and considering alternative solutions

Document Type


Publication details

Wiewiora, A & Murphy, G 2015, 'Unpacking ‘lessons learned’: investigating failures and considering alternative solutions', Knowledge Management Research & Practice, vol. 13, pp. 17-30.

Published version available from:


Peer Reviewed



One of the most common ways to share project knowledge is to capture the positive and negative aspects of projects in the form of lessons learned (LL). If effectively used, this process can assist project managers in reusing project knowledge and preventing future projects from repeating mistakes. Nevertheless, the process of capturing, storing, reviewing and reusing LL often remains suboptimal. Despite the potential for rich knowledge capture, lessons are often documented as simple, line-item statements devoid of context. Findings from an empirical investigation across four cases revealed a range of reasons related to the perceived quality, process and visibility of LL that lead to their limited use and application. Drawn from the cross-case analysis, this paper investigates an integrated approach to LL involving the use of a collaborative Web-based tool, which is easily accessible, intelligible and user-friendly, allowing more effective sharing of project knowledge and overcoming existing problems with LL.