Developing a Learning Organization

Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Nov 2020


Leaders evaluate performance at all levels to understand the causal factors of successes and failures. All those involved learn incrementally, applying today’s lessons to the next assignment. This focus on continuous improvement brings with it a responsibility to share lessons learned throughout the organization.

In a learning organization, leaders treat honest mistakes as opportunities to learn and do better next time. Understanding that failure is a part of learning, they establish command climates in which followers are motivated by a desire to succeed rather than fear of failure. At the crew level, conducting regular After Action Reviews (AAR) is one of the most powerful tools a leader has for building effective and cohesive teams.

Discussion Points:

  • Discuss the relationship between developing a learning organization and safety.
  • What happens when honest mistakes are punished rather than used as a learning opportunity?
  • How are mistakes and failure dealt with within your crew/organization?
  • What was your crew/organization’s most recent learning moment?


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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