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Sharing knowledge to shape the future: HS2 takes the Learning Legacy baton

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It’s almost 10 years since London 2012 published the first Learning Legacy - a structured approach to the capture and dissemination of lessons learned, good practice and innovation aimed at raising the bar in industry. The baton has since been handed to Crossrail and Thameslink London Bridge to share their learning legacies and now it’s passed to HS2. So how has learning legacy developed and delivered value over the last ten years?

London 2012 Legacy

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was spectacular and I’m so proud to be part of the construction programme that enabled it. However I am even more proud of the legacy that it left. At the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), we approached the building of the Olympic Park as a sustainable regeneration project in East London which was rented to LOCOG to host the Games. But the legacy extends beyond even this. The construction of the Olympic Park set new standards in terms of major projects delivery – on time, on budget and exceeding industry benchmarks for health and safety performance, equality, inclusion, employment, skills and sustainability. For me, the legacy that I have taken forward from the Olympics is the Learning Legacy.

Developing the London 2012 Learning Legacy

I worked as a programme assurance executive for the ODA and one of my responsibilities was project close out and lessons learned. Due to the high profile and success of the project we were inundated with requests from across industry to share learning, good practice and for research by academia. There was a huge appetite to share knowledge. I was asked to coordinate these requests and, as part of ODA’s legacy commitments, to develop a framework to capture the learning and focus our efforts where they could add most value – hence the ‘Learning Legacy’ was born.

Working across the organisation and supply chain, we captured over 600 learning legacy resources which we published on a website and in a range of industry journals and publications. Working with industry partners we also disseminated the learning through an ambassador programme which enabled speakers to share their learning at events. The legacy owner of the London 2012 learning legacy is now the Major Projects Association (MPA).

The legacy from the London 2012 Learning Legacy is in the learning legacy resources, and is still regularly used in the industry now, 10 years on, and the methodology that was created has been subsequently applied by future projects and programmes as a structured approach to sharing knowledge across industry and as a showcase for UK PLC. Learning Legacy has become an industry standard.

Passing the baton

In 2014 I set up the Crossrail Learning Legacy and we published the first set of content in 2016 whilst the project was still in construction. We published the learning legacy methodology on the website and were pleased to see that Thameslink London Bridge programme subsequently published their own learning legacy using this methodology. Between them nearly 1000 resources have been shared.

As part of the development of the Crossrail Learning Legacy I sought feedback from users of the London 2012 Learning Legacy. They wanted to know what we did and how we did it with real life examples and supporting documentation that could be adapted for use on their own projects. So on the Crossrail Learning Legacy we focused a lot on good practice and lessons learned, sharing management system documents such as processes and procedures, templates and dashboards.

The HS2 Learning Legacy launch

The HS2 Learning Legacy goes live on 11 October at an HS2 event supported by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) and MPA. This is the start of HS2’s Learning Legacy and the website will launch with the first 100 resources focusing on five themes:

  • Design, engineering and architecture
  • Digital engineering
  • Environment
  • Health, safety and wellbeing
  • Heritage and archaeology

There are four key differences to previous learning legacies:

  • HS2 has started much earlier: Whilst London 2012 shared its learning at the end of construction programme and Crossrail started at 60 per cent complete, HS2 is one year into the build and 20 per cent complete. It’s brilliant to see learning legacy so early in the project cycle which means that learning from project initiation, early works and procurement (usually long gone by the time learning legacy is set up) can be captured for future projects and programme.
  • Supply chain engagement: At London 2012 the conversation with the supply chain was about guarding their intellectual property, at HS2 the mantra across the supply chain is ‘share learning with pride, borrow learning shamelessly’. This is just the start for HS2 but to date 220 people from 39 organisations within the HS2 family have been published on the HS2 Learning Legacy website and the content to be published in January is 85 per cent contributed by the joint venture contractors delivering the enabling works.
  • Reciprocal knowledge sharing: Previous learning legacies have focused purely on sharing their learning with others, HS2 however is keen to also learn from We are setting up knowledge sharing agreements with other projects to share HS2’s learning legacy but also to bring learning legacy into HS2. This structured approach to facilitating the flow of knowledge between major projects has huge potential to improve project performance and improve productivity across the construction sector and wider industry.
  • Technology improvements: The improvement in search engine capability has significantly improved the discoverability of content on the website. Also the REST Application Programming Interface, has enabled automatic sharing of all content with third parties such as the MPA who are now able to show all the content on their knowledge repository.

As has been done on previous learning legacies, HS2 is collaborating with industry to help disseminate the learning through industry events and webinars. I’m pleased to say that APM has been an active industry partner in all these learning legacies. Watch the events page for future APM events sharing the HS2 learning legacy with members. Furthermore the Major Projects Knowledge repository on the MPA website brings together all learning legacies including HS2’s into their hub providing a single portal to access everything.

The Learning Legacy continues to evolve and improve. But also the knowledge sharing culture continues to evolve and improve. I have seen a real step change in people’s appetite to share their knowledge across project boundaries and in particular by the supply chain. Watch out for my next blog about the value and importance of knowledge management.

You can find out more on the HS2 Learning Legacy website


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