The Department for Lessons Learned - Jenny Rowlands and Phoebe Morris-Jones

Ha! Serious with a bit of a kick/humour. We all need to learn. Wonder how it's going at NATO then?! 


The Department for Lessons Learned - Jenny Rowlands and Phoebe Morris-Jones

Welcome to the District Council’s Department for Lessons Learned*, the information and experience management team. We document and disseminate quarterly summaries of institutional knowledge, co-ordinate information implementation policy, and are the administrators and curators of the official Understanding Archive.

In the financial year 2023/24, we have gone a long way to joining up departments, reducing workload-duplication and encouraging inter-departmental information sharing. However, true open information will not be achieved until the real understanding of how we work and deliver our services transcends not only individual departments, but also individual employees.

Employees are encouraged to phone the hot line or email our designated account and leave details of the information that should be known more widely within the organisation. It is stressed that failure is as valuable to the Department of Lessons Learned as success. Employees changing roles or leaving the organisation are encouraged to make at least five knowledge-collection appointments with a member of the Lessons Learned team prior to their last day.

The Department for Lessons Learned’s achievements include the creation of Trusted Bin Neighbours. After a tip from a member of the public, we reduced paper usage by 63% by eliminating bin-collection calendars, informing one designated resident on each road on the day before bin collection, and providing that resident with a fluorescent bin. It has also established a Fast Failure Network, a group of council employees who critique and develop each other’s policy and service re-design ideas on an ongoing basis.


“Hi! You’ve reached Phoebe at the Department for Lessons Learned. I’m not currently available to speak to you, but we answer 87% of all queries by the second contact and customers report a 94% satisfaction rate with our responses, so I would recommend that you try calling back at a later time. Information indicates that I am least busy between 11 am and 12:30 pm, and least productive between 12:30 pm and 2 pm. Therefore I would recommend that you call at 12 pm. To rate your satisfaction with this message on a scale of 1 to 10, press #, then your response, then # again. Thanks!”


*A number of organisations, including the US Marine Corp. and NATO, have a department or centre for lessons learned.



Jenny Rowlands is the Chief Executive of Lewes District Council. Her professional careercombines senior management experience across housing, policy,communications, equalities and the environment. Jenny has worked on issues of diversity and inclusion throughout her career.

Phoebe Morris-Jones is the Graduate Intern at Lewes District Council.

Security level: Public

More Blog Entries

Upwardly mobile - Debbie Young

Don't under-estimate the impact of libraries, whatever shape or size they come in! And the...

Time passing and running by Derrick Anderson

The long view! Looking back at local government austerity from 2026 - did anything good come...