Saturday, July 31, 2010

What is an AAR? Why do an AAR?

An AAR, aka After Action Review or hotwash.

“The Army's After Action Review (AAR) is arguably one of the most successful organizational learning methods yet devised. Yet, most every corporate effort to graft this truly innovative practices into their culture has failed because, again and again, people reduce the living practice of AAR's to a sterile technique.” Peter Senge

I learned to facilitate and participate in AARs while in the military but the process meets the requirement for formal or informal assessments, with yourself, one on one, or in a collaborative environment. I use it in assessments in my roles as a parent, student, employee, community member, with HS students, military students, peers, supervisors, and other participants after all types of events.

Some key points to remember if you decide to conduct an AAR with yourself, learners, family members, advocacy groups, and/or community groups:

Determine what participants have learned from the experience, exercise, event --
a. Solicit questions and explanations.
b. Ask questions and receive answers from the participants to encourage self actualization/awareness and identify other methods of doing things.
c. Provide immediate feedback in context to the material and correct misunderstandings.
d. Remain unbiased in the facilitator role.
e. Focus on learning and improvement.
f.  Document recommendations, solutions, lessons learned and connect to next steps of learning, exercise, events and/or self improvement.
g. Follow through.

Wikipedia entry for after action reviews

The US Army published a training circular (TC 25-20) in September 1993, A Leader's Guide to After Action Reviews.

Big Dog & Little Dog's Performance Juxtaposition AAR page. Provides definitions, diagram, steps to conduct, strategies, and references.

After Action Review Appendix G, FM 25-101, Battle Focused Training, 30 September 1990 (FM 25-101 superseded by FM 7-1)

The Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program provides links for references to AARs.

Do you conduct AARs? What do you learn from an AAR? Have you facilitated/participated in an event like an AAR with a different title or label?

Comments, recommendations, and feedback are always welcome.

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