What's wrong with your Lessons Learned Database?
"Nothing wrong with the database. The issue is execution in the field when actions that were previously identified were not followed through."
-Health, Safety, and Environmental Executive
We interviewed a few executives on what's wrong with their lessons learned databases, and this was one of the common responses.
A database of incidents is not that effective if you cannot get your guys in the field to review the incidents themselves. If you create a database that is optimized for pure functional efficiency, it can be nearly impossible to encourage the most important part of the database to work - the part where you get hands in the field to follow through on those learnings and read them.
In comes the solution: Gamification.
Gamification is a fancy term that has some incorrect bad connotations, but it is simply "the craft of deriving fun and engaging elements found typically in games and thoughtfully applying them to real-world activities." Another term for gamification is "human-focused design." There is a need to provide some innovation to the Lessons Learned world and focus on human-focused design so we can be encouraged to learn from the past.
Here are ways to improve your Lessons Learned Database using three of the eight Cores of Octalysis from the book "Actionable Gamification" by Yu-Kai Chou.
Figure 1: Octalysis Eight Core Drives
Core 1: Epic Calling and Meaning:
Your team needs to believe they are engaged in something bigger than themselves. Show it! Repeat it often! Depict and describe your field hands fighting death, dismemberment, and job loss by coming together to review and share lessons. We don't need to make up an enemy to fight, we have one, the major fight we have is against loss of life and income. The problem is that we get complacent, and because an incident has not occurred in a while, we believe that it won't in the future. Remind constantly, encourage them to stay diligent, and create a system that encourages reviewing incidents often.
Core 2: Development and Accomplishment:
Users need to feel growth and proud for accomplishing a goal. Set the goal to review one incident per day, or better yet, allow them to set their own. You can even have modules to complete based on different safety topics. After creating these goals, you need to reward the user for completing these goals.
It doesn't need to be monetary incentives, and most likely should never be a dollar amount specifically. Once we see a dollar amount associated with an action, or mind goes immediately to a market analysis of is it worth it to complete that action.
Try giving shout-outs, trophies, leaderboards that reset weekly? How about a cook out for the whole crew if a percentage of the crews review one incident per day?
Core 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback:
This core is the most difficult to implement correctly, but if done correctly can keep your guys in the field motivated to keep "playing" and learning for a long time. With different incident topics to cover, there is an endless way for users to create their own path to learn and win. If they are interested in learning all about working at heights incidents, let them complete that module, or investigate those incidents first. If they want to focus on learning about well control incidents first, allow them to do that.
If a user can create their own path, and not be confined on one path to "win" this allows the user creativity and is not fatigued by a one-way system.
We're working to implement these ideas into our own database, let us know what you think and if there's anything else that could make it even better.
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