How to … Lessons Learned - a space sector study of best practice


  • Andrew Herd European Space Agency
  • Francesca Piretti European Space Agency



space sector, Lessons Learned, knowledge management, best practice, industry attitudes


Abstract: The European Space Agency is a learning organisation committed to gathering experience from its projects and activities as they progress. In setting out its internal processes and means for Lessons Learned in 2017, the Agency took reference of previous best practice of lessons learned available at that time, both from within and outside of the space sector. Now some 6 years later, the Agency is seeking to both continue to learn from others, particularly those in the space sector, and to provide its experience and expertise gained in this area to others in the space domain. The collection of experience and hence lessons include gathering experiences from other organisation through lessons learned, the exchange of experience between the Agency and other organisations and the collaboration and exchange of state-of-the-art approaches to lessons learned means and process. This is needed as the full adoption to experience sharing and learning is not simply a process change (the way we do things – climate), but also one of culture (our belief set, reinforcing why we do things). In this it is recognised that “the hard stuff is easy, and the soft stuff is hard” – meaning that building tools and documenting the process is the easy part, getting the adoption and use, and the belief that it is beneficial is the harder part. Indeed, investment in tools is generally short term, but the investment in people to create a shift in organisational culture takes much more time. This paper will take a fresh and broad look at lessons learned in the space sector, identify best practices, by gathering data from around a dozen significant space players: space agencies, major space industry and new space entities. It will then present the findings and propose the next steps, both for the European Space Agency, but also for others in the space sector to consider applying within their own organisations.