Continuous innovation requires continuous learning.
One of the best ways to make sure your organization learns continuously is the consistent and effective use of After-Action Reviews.
After-Action Reviews have become popular in organizations. However, they are often done sporadically and superficially.
A thorough AAR process can help turn failures into successes and make a good project, great. Following are tips to make your After-Action Review process more effective:
*Every Project gets an AAR. Create a cultural expectation that a thorough AAR is completed after every project. Managers must insist that these are not optional.
*Everyone Participates with Candor. Constructive conflict is good and you must agree to disagree. Work through disagreements to form consensus – it cannot be imposed by leaders.
*Thoroughly Answer Each AAR Question: 1) What did we expect to happen? 2) What actually happened? 3) Why was there a difference between what we expected and what actually happened? 4) What can we change the next time? Spend most of your time on questions #3 and #4.
*Everyone Needs to Own Mistakes. Leaders especially need to step up and own their errors as role models for the team. Don’t gloss over a breakdown to keep someone from feeling bad.
High performing organizations get that way by doing the little things well. Making your AARs more effective might not sound glamorous but can provide a big payoff for your Mission Impact.
*Ideas for this blog taken from: Fletcher, A., Cline, P.B., & Hoffman, M. “A Better Approach to After-Action Reviews,” Harvard Business Review online, January 12, 2023.