“Lessons Will Be Learned” A euphemism for failure?

Main Article Content

Kevin Pollock

Keywords

lessons learning; organisational failure; organisational learning; barriers to learning

Abstract

Using two recent public inquiry reports, The Manchester Arena Bombing (Kerslake, 2017) and The Grenfell Tower Fire (Moore-Bick, 2019), this paper examines the failure of response organisations to learn lessons from serious incidents. It posits the view that such organisations fail because of their barriers to learning. The phrase ‘lessons will be learned’ is often used post-incident to deflect from the fact that the initial risk was apparent, and in many cases already subject of inquiry recommendations to prevent recurrence, therefore the failure was foreseeable. A review of appropriate literature identifies the key components necessary to embed an organisational learning system which are necessary to overcome such barriers to learning and determine what practical measures could be taken to avoid the necessity of the organisational leader uttering the euphemism of failure, that ‘lessons will be learned’.


Key Words: lessons learning; organisational failure; organisational learning; barriers to learning

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