After Action Review as an agent for culture change

When we talk about Culture Change and Knowledge Management, we need to realise that the Knowledge Management processes themselves are in themselves culture change agents.

change_thoughtsAfter Action reviews are a prime example. They promote openness; people will learn that ‘there is no comeback’ and questions will receive answers. They promote reflection, learning and a performance focus, through discussions on “What did we set out to achieve? What actually happened” “How can we do better next time”.

Below is some feedback from work we did several years ago at an industrial plant in the US, experimenting with introducing After Action Review. We found that not only did the AARs identify many many opportunities to save time and money, they also started to change the mindset, as these quotes from the workforce demonstrate.

“I thought I needed to be the expert and felt threatened at first. After a few AAR’s I felt comfortable that the guys appreciated using their ideas and we became a team” (Supervisor)

“Before the AAR, they didn’t feel like they were a team; After a few AAR’s they became one”. (Boilermaker)

“I have been doing this work for 20 years, and no one has ever asked me what I thought before; so it was a change”. (Boilermaker)

“We are now doing a Before action review in the mornings”. (Supervisor)

Here’s another quote, from a mine manager in Botswana, where we used AARs to radically improve some of his production processes, and deliver savings in the million-dollar range. However for him, there was something even more important than the money.

“The most important thing was the engagement of the people. The people who were involved in this, they actually feel that they are part of a team now. It’s not the project team vs the contractor vs the end users – everybody is part of a single team now. And people are actually coming up with suggestions for implementation, and what makes it quite exciting is that people come up with very good suggestions, we implement it, they see the implementation of that, and they see the benefit afterwards, and so success breeds success”.

That engagement, and that “success breeding success,” was worth more to this manager than a million dollars, because it is the start of a new engaged performance-driven knowledge-enabled and knowledge-seeking culture that will deliver value for years to come.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

6 reasons why After Action reviews are such a great tool.

After Action reviews are one of the core tools in Knowledge Management – but what makes them so powerful?

After Action Reviews (AARs) are like the Hammer in the Knowledge Manager’s toolkit – one of the most basic and most important tools.

They are applied in many organisations around the world as part of their Knowledge Management Framework.  They are focused review meetings, relatively short in duration, designed to help the team become conscious of their own knowledge, so they can act on that knowledge as work progresses. It is like “learning on Tuesday to perform better on Wednesday”. In addition, the learning can be transferred to other teams, but this is generally a secondary role.

 This process was developed by the US Army, who use it as their main knowledge-gathering process. It does not go into very great analytical depth, and so is useful for reviewing short-turnaround activity, or single actions. It is short and focused enough to do on a daily basis, perhaps at the end of a meeting or at the end of a shift. After Action review consists of a face-to-face team discussion around 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?” 

So what makes AARs so valuable? Here are 6 reasons (and you can find 6 more reasons here);

  1. AARs are a conversation about knowledge. They are not progress reviews or individual evaluations, they are conversations with the sole purpose of discussing new knowledge and new learning. The very act of holding an AAR is an acknowledgement that knowledge is important.
  2. AARs are high bandwidth.  Face to face conversation is far and away the best method to surface shared knowledge and to discuss it. 
  3. AARs are culture change agents. People find that it is possible to open up and to share knowledge in a group session, with no risk and no comeback. 
  4. AARs are instant feedback. As people share their knowledge, they can see it being transformed instantly into actions and improvements. Instead of their knowledge vanishing into a black hole, they see immediate results.
  5. AARs are quick and efficient. They can take as little as 15 or 20 minutes, but may have a big cumulative effect. 
  6. AARs lead to action and to change.  Or at least, they should do. Question 5 is the key here – “What are we going to do about it”? AARs are successful to the extent that they lead to change and to action. If they are just talking shops – if all they do is lead to bullet points on a flipchart – then they are a waste of time. AARs should be used to drive changes and improvements in the way a team, department or organisation works. 

If you can apply AARs as part of your KM Framework to regularly drive improvement and change, then you have made full use of this simple yet powerful tool. 

View Original Source Here.

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