Useful in business, as well as emergency situations.
A typical project review is done "post mortem" – after the fact, and well past any opportunity to change the outcome. You finish a project, and then you study it to determine what happened. From there, you decide which processes to keep and what you'll do differently next time.
That may help the next project – but it's too late for the project you've just finished. What's more, you may have already wasted too much time and too many resources in your current project, possibly even causing harmful effects.
Wouldn't it be better to evaluate along the way – so you can capture lessons learned after each milestone, and improve performance immediately?
Organizations of all types, across all industries, could benefit from an ongoing review process. The After Action Review (AAR) process was developed by the military as a way for everyone to learn quickly from soldiers' experiences in the field. With this system, critical lessons and knowledge are transferred immediately to get the most benefit. The "field unit" has an opportunity to talk about what happened, and other teams can then use this experience right away. In this way, the performance of the whole organization improves in a timely manner.
AARs provide an opportunity to assess what happened and why. They are learning-focused discussions that are designed to help the team and the organization's leaders discover what to do differently. For example, when conducting organization-wide training, you might complete an AAR after the first training session to analyze what to do better in the next session. Or if you're changing your manufacturing process, you could do an AAR after completing the first 100 units, instead of finishing the entire run.
It's important to note that AARs aren't limited just to large or formal projects. You can use them after staff meetings or regular operational functions, like month-end accounting. Also, when a safety incident occurs, an AAR can reveal important lessons.
An added benefit of the After Action Review process is...
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