See also Revisión después de la Acción
An After Action Review (AAR) is a simple process used by a team to capture the lessons learned from past successes and failures, with the goal of improving future performance. It is an opportunity for a team to reflect on a project, activity, event or task so that they can do better the next time. It can also be employed in the course of a project to learn while doing. AARs should be carried out with an open spirit and no intent to blame. The American Army used the phrase “leave your rank at the door” to optimize learning in this process. Some groups document the review results; others prefer to emphasize the no-blame culture by having no written record.
AAR is a form of group reflection; participants review what was intended, what actually happened, why it happened and what was learned. One member of the group facilitates, capturing results on a flip chart or in a document.
AARs can be short, frequent group process checks, or more extended, in-depth explorations. They can be conducted in person, on the telephone or even online, either asynchronously (meaning you don't have to be online at the same time with email or web forums) or synchronously (meaning you are online or on the phone at the same time, using tools like chat or instant messaging – IM). Because these reviews can be valuable throughout processes, they are sometimes referred to as Action Reviews (AR).
Learning While Doing – Time to Reflect (From Chris Collison's Learning to Fly)
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1) Manuel Flury, Head Knowledge Management Service, SDC:
“After the Dare to Share Fair 2004, the organisers reviewed what happened and what the out-come was. We did this by using the checklist “how to organise an international conference” and collected experiences, new ideas and proposals for future conferences of that type. In doing this we exchanged our impressions about what happened, what went well, what could have gone better and shared the lessons to be learnt in the future. At the end and with the help of the “checklist”, a case of the Dare to Share Fair was well de-scribed for future organisers. My lesson: Do not just list “lessons” but choose a format that could serve others in a similar situation best.”
2) Peter Tschumi, Head E&I Division, SDC:
“During my time as a coordinator of the SDC programme in Bolivia, the core team (sec-tion head, coordinator, desk officer) used an about two hours AAR for a review of the Country Assistance Strategy that was worked out with all key staff some days ago. The AAR produced a list of features to repeat and some proposals what to change in a forthcoming process. The working process of the annual programme of the E&I division including the two hours presentation of the annual programme to interested (internal and external) par-ties was reviewed with a 30 minutes AAR in a section meeting some 10 days later. This AAR has been a good experience and helps to foster ownership by all concerned.”
3) Gauri Salokhe, Knowledge and Information Management Officer, FAO:
After the Knowledge Share Fair, held in January 2009, we conducted an After Action Review. The AAR session was vital for us as a team to understand what worked well and what could be improved for future such events. The summary of the session is available via the Share Fair blog at: http://sharefair2009.blogspot.com/2009/05/knowledge-share-fair-for-agricultural.html. Another example of how important/useful AAR can be is documented at: It's important to fail.. and LEARN from it!
evaluation, methods, monitoring, reflection, synthesis
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