If I were to ask you what you learned from a recent leadership experience, the odds are you would think for a moment and provide an answer. It would be the response you thought up at that exact moment and it might have been a different answer yesterday and/or tomorrow.
Once in a while we are exposed to an idea or concept used in another leadership setting that has direct application to our current challenges. I was reminded of one the other day when reading Tom Magness’ Leader Business blog post “Take Charge (Part IV).” He referenced the military’s After Action Review (AAR) process. Simply put (I apologize to the military experts if I do not do it full justice), right when an important undertaking is complete the team should ask themselves three questions: 1) What did we plan to do? 2) What did we do? 3) What could we have done better? A few very key elements of the process are:
• Conduct the review within 15 minutes of the action (when the boots are still muddy)
• Document the three questions and the brainstorm answers
• Take no more than 15 minutes for the exercise, and
• Distribute the completed AAR to key stakeholders for future plan enhancements
While extremely simple, I have seen this process teach valuable lessons. It is a particularly useful mentoring tool when used as the final submittal for a less experienced teammate to share with a boss before ending an assignment.
Have you used the AAR process? Do you have another tool you have used in the past?