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The After Action Review: 4 Reasons to Institutionalize Improvement

By May 8, 2020 May 14th, 2020 No Comments

In the military, processes are highly standardized. Counter-intuitively perhaps, this  standardization makes military teams very adaptive and highly suited to thrive in crisis. One process the military uses to elicit continuous improvement is through an “After Action Review” or AAR. 

Based on extensive research and real-world applications, The Gasparotto Group has expanded the basic AAR into a 5-Questions process that guides leaders and teams to truly learn from their experiences. This is a helpful way to understand how to repeat positive actions and how to improve negative results. 

Implementing AAR processes into your organization can transform your leadership style because you are slowing down to analyze outcomes. In the fast-paced world of business, it is often difficult to justify decreasing your pace. Success is often tied to task completion and quick results. However, unless there is a change in fundamental processes and thought patterns, failures are bound to repeat themselves. As a leader, it is your responsibility to drive positive change in your organization. It is only learning when behaviour changes. 

Now, the world has been forced to slow down due to the global health pandemic. This offers a great opportunity to reflect and improve, on an individual, team, and organizational level.

At The Gasparotto Group, we lead teams through the AAR to help them facilitate positive change across the organization. Here is why this is effective: 

  1. After Action Reviews call people in not out.

    AARs are a highly effective tool to increase engagement from employees by soliciting their feedback. Calling an employee in, to review an action lowers the probability that your team member will become defensive. This is because the person is given a psychologically safe space to work through the problem at hand with you. Fingers are not pointed, rather hands are raised to work together to come to a solution.                                       

  2. Institutionalizing learning will result in continuous improvement.

    An AAR is a tool that empowers all levels of employees to be proactive in personal team development. The phrase “win or learn” embodies what an AAR strives to achieve. If an unfavourable outcome does not lead to a lesson and improvement, the failure is a wasted opportunity. It’s only failure if you fail to learn. Leveraging an AAR is highly effective because it institutionalizes learning in a standardized way. The 5-Questions process provides an organization with highly valuable documentation that becomes a baseline for improvement.                                                                               

  3. The value of slowing down.

    An AAR forces you to take a step back and analyze outcomes and their root causes. We live in a fast-paced world. The rate of change continues to accelerate. Often we focus on what is next but fail to understand what has happened and why. When you focus on the “why” you can plan for the “how” of the future. In doing so, you prepare your organization for success.

  4. Zero in on communication.

    Without clear communication, teams will not operate effectively. In a world where virtual communication has become more important than ever, teams must have processes in place that encourage highly effective communication. The AAR zero’s in on communication because it provides a dedicated time to reflect and connect with your team constructively and productively. 

Developed from military best practices, this tool has proven its ability to help teams in all manners of circumstance by calling people in, institutionalizing learning, discovering root causes, and improving communication. Ultimately, the AAR helps teams work through challenges to achieve their mission. It serves the purpose of empowering teams and their leaders for positive change.

At The Gasparotto Group, our services provide organizations with the tools to develop strong leadership and improve their team dynamics. No matter what stage of recovery your organization is in or what mission you are trying to achieve, the AAR supports sustainable development and long-term strategic planning.

To learn more about how our team of experienced leaders can help you contact us at leadership@gasparotto.co.

About the Author

Jess Orchin is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Gasparotto Group. Jess is a graduate of The Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University. At The Gasparotto Group she leverages her experience in sales, business development, and business planning to accomplish company goals. Outside of work Jess is an outdoor enthusiast and can be found in the mountains hiking, biking, climbing and skiing.

 

The Gasparotto Group partners with organizations to help them create and nurture cultures that develop highly effective leaders and build strong, resilient teams.

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