Monday, June 25, 2007

After Action Reviews

Does your organization have a mechanism to honestly assess mission completion in a way that provides the sort of feedback that we all need to grow? when was your last session? If you can't remember (don't are not alone) then perhaps you might want to consider the Army approach to learning.

In the Air Force they are called debriefs. Some of you may know of them as huddles, close-outs, or post-game film analysis. In the Army they are know as After Action Reviews or AARs. They are no-hold's barred reviews of what happened and why. They capture what went well (and should be sustained) and what did not go well (and should be improved). They are rank-less, honest accountability sessions that lead to continuous improvement. Best practices are identified and shared. Shortcomings are identified and corrected on the spot.

They are a beautiful thing to behold. I know of no better mechanism of forcing growth in a team. Done correctly and promptly (after mission, milestone, or activity completion), they allow lessons to be learned and applied immediately to future operations. It took the military a little time to adjust the culture (post-Vietnam) to make AARs part of the military business processes but you can see them being done, at all levels, across the Army every day.

Are AARs part of your culture? If not, you may want to steal some of the details from my Leader Business newsletter on this subject (Leader Business, June 2007). And if you are doing AARs, and have some comments to share, let me hear from you.

AARs are a critical component of organizational and personal learning. And Leader Business!

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