Event: 11th July 2012, Noordwijk

Mr Franco Ongaro, Director of the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) and Director of ESA’s Directorate of Technical & Quality Management, invited Dr Kass to present the ESA Lessons Learned System (ELLS) to him in order that he could assess how to move forward on this project.

Dr Kass presented details of the tool and the holistic approach to the problem of running a lessons learned system; while Mr Ongaro underlined the importance of having a lessons learned system that can facilitate the experts working in the Directorate in learning from both positive and negative experience of their fellows.

The lessons learned application is browser-based, built on an off-the-shelf platform, and designed to be intuitive and user friendly with clear instructions appearing as necessary to guide the user along. Visibility and permissions are set to allow the involved actors to view only the information they need and to perform their assigned tasks; where applicable, the process is facilitated and supported by instructions and intuitive menus allowing use with minimal learning. The tool also supports a process through which the lessons learned entry ‘travels’ as it undergoes review and approval by responsible domain experts and finally by a lessons learned verification board, until it reaches formal publication.

Moreover, the problem of inspiring interest in potentially time-consuming tasks was also presented, being, part of the holistic approach: So-called Lessons Learned Events had been introduced on a monthly basis, which aroused much interest at the ESTEC site where they took place, thus also inspiring curiosity and interest in the Lessons Learned tool itself.

The participants, who included Mr Roger Jegou, head of ESA’s Standards & Engineering Knowledge Division, who had been responsible for initiating the project, engaged in lively discussion exchanging constructive ideas and concrete steps as to how to move forward. All told the meeting went well, extending overtime – lasting almost 90 minutes (one hour had been reserved) – which demonstrated the interest the Director had in this important subject.