Leaders Conduct After Action Reviews
Leaders are responsible for producing outcomes and getting favorable results; sometimes the results are good, other times the results are not so good. Whether the results are positive or negative, a leader’s objective is to continuously improve organizational performance over time. One way to do this is through reviewing an organizations’ current performance in order to inform and shape its future performance. One way to improve performance is to capture it, review it, and then to share it with your team.
The U.S. Army uses a process called the After-Action Review (AAR) that helps to capture performance to sustain and performance to improve. This process allows an organization to record and document lessons learned that can be used to improve its performance in the future. Also, it allows the good things that an organization is doing to be captured so that the performance can be repeated
An AAR is a structured review or de-brief process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better, by the participants and those responsible for the task or event. Becoming a learning organization is what AARs are all about. Learning organizations use AARs to document trends, to gather data, to track performance, and to increase accountability across their organizations. Capturing and documenting performance is extremely important as the leader attempts to guide his team to improved organizational performance.
Typically, an AAR looks at the following questions:
- What was planned?
- What actually occurred? (Facts – what was observed?)
- What went well and why?
- What can be improved and how?
The AAR mentality can be carried over into almost any activity – it can be used to continuously improve your organization’s performance in a myriad of ways. As the AAR process is practiced, it will become part of the culture of your organization and before long it will happen automatically because it will have become a habit. The spirit of an AAR is to root out every bit of efficiency that is possible within the processes that you execute on a daily basis.
The AAR process offers a 360 degree view of your operation, which will help you to improve by leaps and bounds. It’s extremely important to document performance in order to improve future performance. The key to getting the most out of an AAR is to use the lessons learned to gain insight into what you are doing and how well you are doing it.
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