One of the characteristics of effective teams is that they are good at evaluating and adjusting their behaviour even under stress. Here we summarize the "after action review". The English terms are reflect after action or experience feedback.
What are after action reviews?
A plan that a team follows to achieve a goal, needs to be evaluated and adjusted on an ongoing basis in order to reach the goal on time. This is what AAR, after action review, aims at. At an AAR, the team reviews what the goal is, what went well and less well, and what can be learned for the future.
Regular after action reviews give the team a chance to process thoughts and get feedback. It provides high engagement and rapid learning. It increases efficiency by up to a quarter, according to the research.
The term after action review was coined in the military. Swedish terms are reflecting after action, experience reversal, evaluation or short and sweet after-talk. In more formal contexts, a team or process leader leads the operation but it can also be led by a team member.
Any team can do AAR
An after action review can be done by all kinds of teams: nurses, consultants, administrators, an operational task force, group exercise cyclists, IT developers, the team that advised a marketing event or the medical team that managed a long and difficult operation.
Teams that regularly do after action reviews will find that they:
- Receive ongoing self-reflection.
- Get a constant learning, relearning and relearning. It's not about one person judging another.
- Learn effectively - right away. Because the evaluation takes place immediately after the assignment, everyone learns better than if it had taken place a week later. And the fact that everyone is involved means that everyone contributes and learns from different perspectives.
Questions to ask on an AAR
What was the plan and goal?
How did it go?
What did we do well? Why was it good?
What did we do less well? What was the reason?
How should we change in the future?
How to make an AAR happen
Tell them that you are going to do an AAR from the beginning
Continually stress the importance of learning, of getting better
Set a time in advance when the AAR will take place
Good luck with the team's experience exchange!
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