After Action Review
An after action review is a discussion of a project or an activity that enables the individuals involved to learn for themselves what happens, why it happened, what went well, what needs improvement and what lessons can be learned from the experience. The spirit of an after action review is one of openness and learning – it is not about problem fixing or allocating blame. Lessons learned are not only tacitly shared on the spot by the individuals involved, but can be explicitly documented and shared with a wider audience. After action reviews were originally developed and are extensively used by the US Army. Activities suitable for after action reviews simply need to have a beginning and an end, an identifiable purpose and some basis on which performance can be assessed. After action reviews can be grouped into three types: formal, informal and personal. Formal after action reviews tend to be conducted at the end of a major project or event. Informal after action review s tend to be conducted after a much smaller event such as a meeting or a presentation, or following a specific event during a wider project or activity. In an open and honest meeting, each participant in the event answers four simple questions – what was supposed to happen, what actually happened, why were there differences, what did we learn. Personal after action reviews are a simple matter of personal reflection. For example, take a few minutes to reflect on something you did yesterday such as a patient consultation, dealing with a complaint or making a specific telephone call. Ask yourself the four after action review questions above. It is worth repeating that after action reviews are learning events, not critiques. It is therefore vital that they are not treated as performance evaluation. The quality of an after action review depends on the willingness of participants to be open. This is unlikely to happen if they fear they are going to be assessed or blamed. Studies on the learning process show that the less time that elapses between discussing a lesson and applying it at work, the more effective the application.
The After Action Review template will be useful for project managers and team leaders. You can use this template when analysing a team’s work on a project. Also, this template will be useful for business trainers when receiving feedback about the course from their students. The slides in this template can also be used by software developers to get feedback on the program. Engineers can use this after commissioning new equipment and analysing its performance during the tested period. Also, this template will be useful for HR managers when preparing a report on the work of a new employee and processing feedback on his work from his manager and colleagues. The After Action Review template consists of four slides that are easy to edit and can be customized to suit your needs.