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What Difference Does a Difference Make? Considerations About Lessons Learned from Difficult Operational Situations

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In the wake of extreme operational situations—especially those with a tragic outcome—the concept of Lessons Learned is often taken into hindsight revision: What did we learn from previous events? What learning potential did we miss out on? Based on theoretical and empirical knowledge from the Danish Defense and NATO Lessons Identified/Lessons Learned guidelines, the article centers around reflections pertaining to this concern and its inherent assumptions related to the idea of learning from experience. We note that while we try to learn from past events, what happens is always a new event. The article discusses potentials and pitfalls related to the delimitation of ‘incidents’ in relation to time and context. Furthermore, the article considers the practice of categorization that is central to military Lessons Identified and Lessons Learned guidelines. It is suggested that the practice of categorization is exerted through three main activities: narrative selection of punctuations; fragmentation of experiences; and translation of personal (physical and emotional) experience into (written) knowledge management artifacts. All three categorization activities rely on specific taken-for-granted assumptions which the paper questions, encouraging the research field to further explore and develop ways of translating subjective, lived experience and its individual meaning into organizational learning.
TitelLeadership in Extreme Situations
RedaktørerMichael Holenweger, Michael Karl Jager, Franz Kernic
Antal sider27
Udgivelses stedCham
ForlagSpringer Publications
ISBN (Trykt)978-3-319-55058-9
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-3-319-55059-6
StatusUdgivet - 2017


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