Lessons learned

In 1948, the Chicago Daily Tribune famously announced the wrong result of the U.S. presidential election. So that we can all avoid repeating mistakes that have already been made, Fermilab’s Office of Quality and Best Practices manages a database of lessons learned at the laboratory. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

Winston Churchill once said, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Fortunately, at Fermilab we have a Lessons Learned Program that makes it easy for employees to learn from others’ experiences, thus helping them avoid repeating problems others may have encountered.  Administered by the Office of Quality and Best Practices, this program gathers lessons learned throughout Fermilab, other DOE laboratories and industry into a searchable, centralized database.

The Fermilab Lessons Learned Database is hosted on the ES&H website and is available to all Fermilab employees, users and contractors.  A simple interface allows you to easily search the database for aspects of the lessons learned such as severity, risk and subject area.  The lessons learned are currently divided into the following categories, with a lessons learned coordinator (LLC) assigned to each:

In addition to viewing lessons learned listed in the database, you may also submit them. The new lessons are intended to identify and document opportunities for improvement. As such, the lessons may identify either best practices to be emulated or problems to be avoided. Simply send an e-mail with a description of the lesson to the appropriate LLC. The LLC will review the lesson and determine if it is applicable at Fermilab and at other DOE laboratories. They will then add the lesson to the Fermilab database. It may also be submitted to the DOE lessons learned program if appropriate. For further information and assistance with the Lessons Learned Program, contact your division/section/center quality assurance representative or a quality assurance engineer.

John F. Martzel