Next session at KMWorld 2009, with Tracy Conn and Kathy Valderrama discussing the experience of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland with lessons learned (LL).  Banks are notoriously conservative culture where ‘mistakes’ aren’t usually widely shared.  But they started the KM work in 2000 with after action reviews, looking for improvement opportunities.  But they found cynicism growing and the experience was pretty negative — not what they really wanted to achieve.  It also wasn’t connected to their core business of examining banks.

So, in 2005 they began to formalize their approach, and then, as is so often the case, a senior vp asked if new hires were being made aware of a case where a bank had failed in 2000.  That’s how it happens, isn’t it? A senior voice asks the right question.

Kathy & Tracy tell a good story — and that’s the approach they adopted with LL: they tell stories; they involved as many ppl as possible in interviews, with a facilitator to guide the process (using appreciative approach – yeah!), ask the questions & probe a bit; the interviews are recorded & the project managers set the context for the situation being discussed.  They not only talk about the problems encountered, but the solutions used – or what they wish they’d used –& then on-going follow-up and advice to future teams.

They also created some Balance Scorecard metrics.  That’s a lot! phew! Developing the process took them about 6 months & introduced the process at a department meeting to about 150 ppl with a senior vp endorsing it. The vp used the analogy of fire fighters — that they need to look at planning to prevent fires & how best to manage fires when they do break out.

This approach has been used for the past 3 yrs; they put the LL into the learning management system so they could track usage & embed these into existing training curriculum.  Now all new hires take the LL as part of their training when they start work. They are also tested on their understanding so that if their scores aren’t as expected someone sits with them to help increase understanding.  Their strategic objective is to accelerate the learning curve for new hires into bank examiner roles.

They are now engaging subject matter experts to help them create their “legacies”  – in some cases these are video-taped. And they are using km champions to identify situations to explore, with real examples to reinforce the concepts.  People remember the stories – don’t we all?

The other part to their LL is aligning with business imperatives; they faced a dilemma of more than twice the normal number of new examiners who had to go thru the 3 yr training program.  And, the bank had a high risk of extensive knowledge capital loss with many examiners leaving; 40% of their staff (much higher than other banks) had less than 5 yrs experience.

They developed an online simulation with all the main players — from the chief examiner as the coach, right through to the bank board members (all fictitious).  So the avatars talk to the learner, while the text runs on the side simultaneously.  It has built in decision paths, so as soon as the learner chooses, the coach can respond.  COOL.  And the learner can select a variety of coaching videos as they go along from REAL people, not avatars — but from those more experienced within the bank. COOL COOL.

This learning approach gives a wealth of experiences to the learners that may not come up in their real work during the first 3 years. They are also finding it not only leverages & reuses the knowledge in the bank, but increases retention because it is interesting & relevant for the learners. “Tell me how you handled an angry bank manager?” resonates for new hires — they want to hear other people’s experiences. The new hires on on the road 70-80% of their time, so they are trying to put some of this into podcasts. It’s not replacing the whole LL process, but leveraging it & enhancing it. What’s different about their approach?

– it’s embedded in exisiting business processes & usage is tracked throguh the LMS

– it puts real examples in real context for them – & it’s interesting for the learners – combines people who have “been there, done that” with avatars – story telling brings results

The content is in small pieces, so changes or edits can be made to small pieces & not the whole program. They use commercial products to do the simulation and for their LMS.