11 ground-rules for successful After Action reviews

AAR is a quick and simple but powerful KM process. Here are 11 rules for AAR success.

After Action Review (AAR) is one of the most basic Knowledge Management processes – quick, simple and powerful when used well, and when used to drive change and improvement. An organisation that develops the AAR habit is well on the way to becoming an learning organisation.

AAR is a very simple process – it’s basically 5 questions:

  • What was supposed to happen?
  • What actually happened?
  • Why was there a difference?
  • What have we learned?
  • What will we do about it?

However there are certain ground rules which need to be applied if AARs are to deliver value. The 11th rule is the most important! 
  1. Ask open and honest questions, offer open and honest response 
  2. There are no wrong responses; every response is someones viewpoint
  3. Leave preconceptions and prejudgments at the door 
  4. Leave hierarchy at the door as well – everyone’s knowledge is of equal value 
  5. Respect and listen to each other 
  6. Disagreement is positive and needs to be explored 
  7. Don’t rush to solutions  
  8. Get to root cause (the third question – “why was there a difference” – is really the first step in root cause analysis and you may need several more Why’s before you get to root cause)
  9. Focus on real issues and learning, not individual performance evaluation.
  10. Keep the meeting brief and focused.
  11. Incorporate the learnings into future activity

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Shared by: Nick Milton

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