Lessons Learned



NATO defines its Lessons Learned Capability as follows: "A Lessons Learned Capability provides a commander with the structure, process and tools necessary to capture, analyse and take remedial action on any issue and to communicate and share results to achieve improvement." The purpose of the NATO Lessons Learned Capability is to learn efficiently from experience and to provide validated justifications for amending the existing way of doing things in order to improve performance for (subsequent) operations. As such the NATO Lessons Learned Capability comprises several important elements: leadership, mindset, structure, process, tools, training and information sharing.

  • Leadership: Strong leadership is needed to engage the whole organization throughout the NATO Lessons Learned Process by providing guidance for focus areas on which lessons need to be captured, requesting such lessons to be captured during day-to-day work, during operations, or at exercises, approving Lesson Collection Plans, approving Lessons Identified, deciding on recommended Remedial Actions and tasking the relevant Action Body to make an action plan in order to turn an approved Lesson Identified into a Lesson Learned. 
  • Mindset: The right Lessons Learned mind-set is needed to ensure that everyone in the organization is geared towards uploading Observations, Lessons, and Best Practices into the NATO Lessons Learned Portal (NLLP) in order to capture and share knowledge. 
  • Structure: The NATO Lessons Learned structure consists of specialist personnel such as Lessons Learned Staff Officers, Lessons Learned Points of Contact or any person that originates an Observation as well as specific working- and decision-making Lessons Learned groups in NATO.
  • Process: The NATO Lessons Learned Process (as described below) is executed in order to deliver improvements and provides a structured framework with a clear division of roles and responsibilities during the process.
  • ​​​​​​​Tools: The NLLP is the single tool in NATO for the collection, management, tracking, monitoring, and sharing of lessons. The NLLP was established and is managed by the JALLC. 
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Training: Training is teaching or developing in oneself or others the skills and knowledge that relate to a specific useful competency. Training has the goal of improving one’s capability, capacity, productivity, and performance. 
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Information Sharing​​​​​​​: Provides the opportunity to learn from others and to improve on one’s own performance. Sharing should be based on the need to share principle where possible rather than the need to know. However, many factors have to be taken into account such as the target audience, timing, security, and the quality of the information. Lessons Learned sharing can be done by actively forwarding lessons (push) or by actively collecting lessons (pull).




The NATO Lessons Learned Process does not replace, but supports the normal staffing (administration) of lessons through the chain of command, specific to each organization. It consists of two phases, with different steps and deliverables, as presented in the figure and explanation below.

Phase 1: The Analysis Phase

Plan: Based on the Commander’s guidance and priorities, a Lesson Collection Plan may be developed by the authority responsible for/or leading an activity; 

Observe: An observation has to describe what the issue observed is that may be improved or describe a successful performance that may be a potential Best Practice; 

Analyse: Describe the context in which the issue or problems was observed. Discuss why the issue happened. Discuss what can be done to avoid or improve the issue (options). Assess the options (pros and cons). What can be done to keep the success? Drive a conclusion: What was the main reason, the root cause for why the issue or potential Best Practice happened? Provide a recommendation: What is proposed to be done to improve? What are the pro-posed Remedial Actions? Who is the single Tasking Authority to decide on the recommendation? 

The output of this phase should be a Lesson Identified/Best Practice—including any recommendations— which is uploaded into the NLLP and forwarded to the Tasking Authority.


Phase 2: The Implementation Phase

Decide: The Tasking Authority reviews the Lesson Identified/Best Practice and takes a decision regarding the relevant recommendation(s), providing feedback to the Originating Authority. The subsequent decision is uploaded to the NLLP and, if the Lesson Identified is approved, the Tasking Authority tasks an Action Body to implement it and uploads the tasking in the NLLP. 

Implement: The Action Body then develops an Action Plan with the required actions and milestones to be able to implement the Lesson Identified which requires the approval of the Tasking Authority. The Action Body then uploads the approved Action Plan to the NLLP, implements the relevant actions and validates the results (as required) and reports to the Tasking Authority. Finally, the Tasking Authority is then responsible for changing the status of Lesson Identified to Lesson Learned once the lesson has indeed been implemented and validated. 

The output of the phase is a Lesson Learned.




In 2019, the JALLC was tasked to engage with thirteen NATO Command Structure HQs, with the purpose of providing training, conducting an assessment of the HQs’ implementation of NATO Lessons Learned Capability in the HQs, and subsequently providing recommendations to sustain, maintain, and improve the relevant HQs implementation efforts.  The assessment visits are to be repeated in a two-year cycle.

How does it work? 

The JALLC Advisory and Training Team (JATT) conducts the NATO Lessons Learned Capability assessments through interviews with the Lessons Learned Staff Officers at the NATO Command Structure HQs. 

The NATO Lessons Learned Capability assessments are designed to assess the NATO Command Structure HQ’s implementation of each of the elements of the NATO Lessons Learned Capability, its ability to institutionalize Lessons, and its annual Lessons Learned reporting.  Survey questions are first given to the Lessons Learned Staff Officers to self-assess and then reviewed with a member of the JATT. 




Organizing Lessons Learned Events, such as conferences, seminars, and workshops, including the NATO Lessons Learned Conference, which brings together the members of the NATO Lessons Learned community to share experiences and engage on a wide range of Lessons Learned related topics and promote the use of the NLLP.

NATO Lessons Learned Conference

Since 2003, the JALLC has hosted the annual NATO Lessons Learned Conference on behalf of Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), which has become an important event in NATO's Lessons Learned calendar, bringing together participants from NATO and National entities, developing a stronger NATO Lessons Learned community.

                              Pictures from NLLC 2019

This event provides participants with the opportunity for the exchange of information within the NATO Lessons Learned community and stimulates discussions on best and suitable practices for improving the current NATO Lessons Learned Capability, enabling the continuous transformation of the Alliance.

The NATO Lessons Learned Conference is also an opportunity to engage with Partners and representatives from industry and academia to share insights on innovation and relevant new technologies. Conference recommendations are processed by the JALLC and fed into the NATO Lessons Learned Process via the NLLP where they are monitored and actioned, contributing to the Alliance’s Transformation.




The NATO Lessons Learned Conference 2024

NLLC24 Logo Compass in Front Spelled Out.pngThis year, the JALLC will host the NATO Lessons Learned Conference (NLLC24) on behalf of SACT from 16-17 April. The theme of this year's conference is: NATO Lessons Learned Capability Development in support of NATO 2030 efforts, and will be held live in Lisbon. This year's edition will include individual and panel presentations, as well as discussions in plenary sessions (up to the NATO Unclassified level) that will address different aspects of the theme, such as: NATO LL Capability development for enhancing LL coordination and sharing among Allied Nations; accelerating digital transformation; and how the NATO LL Capability and its development can support and inform NATO 2030 efforts, all with the aim of highlighting findings for improving the overall NATO LL Capability.  In addition to the specific presentations and discussions, the NLLC24 is designed to offer presenters and participants opportunities to reflect on shared experiences in the LL field and update the LL community on the latest LL activities. Speakers will include NATO senior leadership as well as external experts invited to share their experiences and expertise with the NLL24 participants.

The NLLC24 will also a pre-conference day (15 April) and a post-conference day (18 April) that will be dedicated to specific topics and communities of interest, offering an opportunity for more in-depth and detailed discussions at different levels in order to progress the development of Lessons Learned in NATO.

To get an idea of what the NATO Lessons Learned Conference has to offer, in terms of the panels, discussions, and activities, you can download a copy of the Magazine (see below) covering the last edition of the conference.

The preliminary agenda for the NLLC24 will be made available in the upcoming calling letter for the event along with details for registration and what to expect from the event. Follow the JALLC on social media to find out the latest about this event which will also be posted on our news page on this website. 

We look forward to welcoming you to the NLLC24!

Previous NATO Lessons Learned Conference Reports

Find out more about previous NATO Lessons Learned Conferences from the magazines and Conference Reports below. Please note that Portal membership might be required to access all or part of the information.

Conference 2022


We are proud to publish the NATO Lessons Learned (LL) Conference 2022 (NLLC22) Magazine. The theme of the conference, which was was held from 04 to 05 May 2022,  was: 'A flashback of two decades of learning to gain insights for the next five years', and discussions were centred around best practices and lessons learned that are crucial for the implementation of the NATO LL Capability Improvement Roadmap. The NLLC22 Magazine, which was published in November 2022 in connection with the NATO LL Fall week, includes articles from the key speakers at the event and covers the main topics of the conference including the four panels that looked at LL in support of the Warfare Development Agenda, Innovation in support of LL, and lessons from exercises as well as from operations.



Conference 2022

NLLC Factsheet.JPG

We are proud to publish the Factsheet on the NATO Lessons Learned (LL) Conference (NLLC22). The Conference itself was a huge success, the live-online hybrid format allowed participants from Allies and Partners to attend presentations and participate in discussions that focussed on the conference theme: 'A flashback of two decades of learning to gain insights for the next five years'. The theme was intended to draw lessons, best practices, experiences, and good ideas from the past 20 years of learning lessons in order to inform the further implementation of the NATO LL Capability Improvement Roadmap (2021-2025) aimed at ensuring a relevant, resourceful NATO LL Capability for the future.




Conference 2021

From the Commander:Magazine Cover for Article.PNG
I’d like to welcome you all to this magazine covering the NATO Lessons Learned Conference 2021(NLLC 21) which took place from 16 to 18 March via the JALLC's online event platform as a virtual event. This magazine is intended to provide those who attended the event with an overview of what was presented and dicussed during the event, and those who could not attend, the opportunity to read some of the highlights. I hope you enjoy this magazine...





Conference 2019

From the Commander:20191220_NLLC19_magazine.jpg
I’d like to welcome you all to this magazine covering the NATO Lessons Learned Conference 2019 (NLLC 19) which took place from 14 October to 16 October at the NOVA School of Business and Economics near Lisbon. I hope this magazine will provide you with an overview of the speeches, presentations, and general flow of the event...






Conference 2018

20180329_factsheet_ll_conference_2018.jpgThe NATO Lessons Learned Conference, which was first convened in 2003 has since evolved into an important, regular event for NATO Lessons community. This year saw yet another evolution of this event as the format of the Conference changed from a seminar/briefing based one, to the new format which saw Participants working actively in syndicates with JALLC staff and Subject Matter Experts (SME) to analyse Conference theme related topics in more depth and make recommendations for a way ahead for NATO ...






Conference 2016

nllc2016report.png"The future of lessons learned Improvement and Innovation"

From the Commander:
This year’s NATO Lessons Learned Conference was my first as Commander of the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC), and I believe that we truly looked to the future of the Alliance through the lens of Lessons Learned. I’d like to give you my key take aways from this year’s Conference; my interpretation of the briefings, the discussions, the interactions, and the exchange of ideas and experiences that all took place over the two days we were gathered together in the beautiful city of Lisbon, Portugal...




Conference 2015

nllc2015report.png"Closing the loop"

The NATO Lessons Learned Conference (NLLC) 2015 was held from 10 to 12 November this year in Lisbon. The aim of this year’s Conference was to assess how NATO's Lessons Learned Capability supports the Alliance's ability to prepare for, and conduct, current and future military operations. During the conference, participants explored new approaches to embed lessons from non-NATO entities (NNE) and investigated parallels with the way other organizations manage their Lessons Learned process. The conference was opened by Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, General Mirco Zuliani, and included nine panels, covering six topics, as well as updates and opportunities for participants to ask questions




Conference 2014

"nllc2014report.pngLearning from Experience, Strengthening the Alliance"

At this year's Conference we looked at how we can structure NATO's learning process to ensure it is a continuous one. This concept of continuous learning is echoed in GEN Paloméros, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation's description of his vision of Transformation which he gave us during his open-ing speech: "a golden thread which binds NATO's past, present, and future".






Conference 2013

nllc2013report.png"Consolidating Lessons, Sharing and Learning"

This year we refocused the Conference on the fundamentals of our successful organizational learning processes, in order to showcase how NATO learns from experience, and consoli-dates and shares lessons among its Command and Force Struc-tures as well as with member and partner countries.






Conference 2012

"nllc2012report.pngLearning from the Past – Preparing for the Future"

The Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre hosted the NATO Lessons Learned Conference in Lisbon, Portugal from 23 to 25 October 2012. The conference theme was: "Learning from the Past – Preparing for the Future." The theme allowed participants to look beyond development of the NATO LL Capability and the capture and implementation of specific lessons from NATO's (then) recent activities, towards the broader perspective of NATO's activities of the past decade to consider how experience and lessons can be applied to NATO's future activities




Conference 2011

nllc2011report.png"Extracting Lessons from Operations"

The format for this year's conference differed greatly from previous years, where the focus was on the NATO Lessons Learned (LL) Capability and Process and was aimed at LL Practitioners, examining how NATO can implement lessons learning in our organizations. This year the focus was instead on lessons from operations and was aimed at the operators—at those who are best placed to identify lessons and who in turn must learn lessons if the organization as a whole is to improve.





Conference 2010

Tnllc2010report.pnghe aim of this year's conference was to provide NATO's forum for exchange of information within the NATO LL community, and in doing so, to stimulate discussion on best practices for Joint Analysis, the LL Process, Remedial Action processes, and supporting tools, in order to enable the continuous improvement of the Alliance. Specifically, the conference sought to tackle the two questions that appear to be the major stumbling blocks in NATO's LL Process: how to turn Lessons Identified into Lessons Learned and what constitutes a LL Capability.






  • Action Body (AB). The Action Body is the organization or staff tasked by the Tasking Authority with the implementation of an assigned recommendation/ Remedial Action from a Lesson Identified. The Action Body develops, as required, an action plan to guide the Remedial Action activities. The Action Body reports to the Tasking Authority. 
  • Approval. Constitutes final and formal agreement on matters, which are within the authority’s remit without reference to other authority. Such agreement will normally result in approval for follow-on action or activity. 
  • Best Practice. A Best Practice is a technique. Process, or methodology that contributes to the improved performance of an organization and has been identified as the best way of operating in a particular area as compared to other good practice(s). Ideally, a Best Practice should be adaptive, replicable, and immediately usable. 
  • Endorsement. Represents formal agreement, but where the matter requires subsequent consideration and approval by another authority and/or at a higher level. 
  • Lesson Collection Plan. The lesson collection plan should be a comprehensive and detailed plan for who, when, where, and how lessons are collected for priority or focus areas. However, where the circumstances call for it, a lesson collection plan can be a simple list of priorities or focus areas A lesson collection plan can be made ahead of an activity as an integrated part of the general planning in order to enable the active and focused collection of lessons. 
  • Lesson Learned Point of Contact (LL POC). A Staff Officer appointed by an HQ Division / Branch / Section head whose secondary/collateral function is to perform Lessons Learned tasks be the Subject Matter Expert in his/her functional area. 
  • Lesson Identified (LI). An observation which has been analysed in order to identify the root cause, and in respect of which a recommended Remedial Action and a Tasking Authority has been identified. The LI is to be uploaded in the NLLP. 
  • Lessons Learned Staff Officer (LLSO). The LLSO is responsible for conducting staff work (administrative work) in support of the organization’s Lessons Learned process, Lessons Learned information sharing, and participation in the Lessons Learned community. He/she is central to the organization’s efforts to engage everybody in seeing the value of learning lessons. 
  • Lessons Learned (LL). An LL in respect of which remedial action has been approved and implemented. 
  • NATO Lessons Learned Portal (NLLP). The NLLP is the single tool in NATO for the collection, management, tracking, monitoring, and sharing of lessons. The NLLP was established and is managed by the JALLC. Watch the video on the NLLP here
  • NATO Lessons Learned Process. The NATO Lessons Learned Process is NATO’s formal process for identifying potential lessons and ensuring that, through analysis of the cause and potential remedial action they are learned in such a way that allows the Alliance to transform to better meet the needs of the Allies. It consists of two distinct phases and includes relevant deliverables. 
  • Observation. A short description of an issue which may be improved or a potential Best Practice. 
  • ODCR (Observation, Discussion, Conclusion, Recommendation format). Is the format employed by NATO and the JALLC to ensure that observations are captured and analysed correctly providing clear conclusions and recommendations. 
  • Originating Authority (OA). The Originating Authority is the entity that is responsible for endorsing the Lessons Identified or Lessons Identified List (LIL) and that the individual LIs are uploaded in the NLLP. This includes documentation of the observation, analysis, and conclusion, recommended remedial actions and identifying the Tasking Authority. The Originating Authority is to forward the Lesson Identified to the Tasking Authority through the chain of command. 
  • Remedial Action. The corrective action needed to transform and Lesson Identified into a Lesson Learned. 
  • Tasking Authority (TA). The Tasking Authority is the entity that is responsible for phase 2 in the NATO Lessons Learned Process (see above). This includes deciding on recommendations and Remedial Actions (noting or approving), committing resources and appointing/tasking one or more Action Bodies accordingly. The Tasking Authority informs the Originating Authority of its decision (feedback). The Tasking Authority is responsible for the coordination, implementation and tracking of the Lesson Identified to a Lesson Learned. The Tasking Authority also ensures that the approved Lesson Identified is uploaded into the NLLP and its status updated to Lesson Learned once the lesson is indeed implemented.