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The After Action Review
Human Resources » Knowledge Management

Chrm Message From: pramod_mv Total Posts: 21 Join Date: 11/08/2008
Rank: Executive Post Date: 10/08/2009 15:56:30 Points: 105 Location: United States

The after action review is a process for learning from action. Groups and individuals use five simple questions to guide their analysis:

(1) What Was the Intent?
What was the purpose of the action? What were we trying to accomplish? In describing and evaluating the intent, be as specific as possible.

(2) What Happened?
What exactly occurred? Why? Why not? What were the results? It is hard to recall accurately what happened. That is why it is important to conduct the AAR as soon after the event as possible.

(3) What Was Learned?
On the basis of what we tried to do and what actually happened, what did we learn?
What do we know now that we did not know before we started? If someone else were to start down the same path, what advice would we give this person?

(4) What Do We Do Now?
Based on what we know now, what should we do? Because the focus of the AAR is on action, it is important to focus on learning that can be quickly applied back into the action.

(5) Who Else Should We Tell?
Who else needs to know what we have learned? What do they need to know? How are we going to tell them? How can we leverage what we know to drive organization-wide performance?

The U.S. Army has had the most experience with AARs. Everyone is accustomed to taking time to do a "hot wash." which happens during the action, or a "cold wash," which is done immediately after the action is completed. When handled well, an AAR should not take long. Much can be learned in 30 minutes or an hour. The payoff comes from capturing insights that can quickly be applied in action.

Organizations like Chrysler, Ford, and Analog Devices use the AAR to continually improve new product development. For example, at Analog Devices, each product development team works on one project with many interrelated tasks. Once a week, employees prepare a one-page review of their performance. Later, team members meet to compare, consolidate, and identify what they have learned and how this knowledge can improve their performance. Subsequently, the one-page reviews
and the consolidated summaries are used during the six-week review of all product development projects. Team learning is consolidated and used to modify and improve the product development process itself. But at Analog Devices, the process does not stop there. The six-week reviews become the basis for a total review after the company introduces the products into the marketplace. Experiential learning results in modifications to the product development process and ensures that employees receive training that is directly related to their work. Constant improvement becomes a way of life.

Anyone to share their views on this : )