Friday, 22 January 2010

AAR the standard way

Remember this post about the 251 method for After Action reviews?

I have had a few people say "that's a great idea - I will try it on my AARs"

I say "Hold on a moment!"

This 251 method was developed for a specific situation, where people are culturally unwilling to join in a free and open conversation. It is therefore a way of stimulating interaction, and specifically asking for their individual input.

The advantage - you hear from people who might otherwise not contribute.
The disadvantage - no dialogue - just a set of individual views.

For me, the dialogue is one of the key elements in the success of the AAR. Through dialogue with each other, the team reaches a deeper understanding than any of them could have reached individually. You dialogue, to find the root causes, and then design the corrective (or sustaining) actions.

That's why, in most western cultures, I would not recommend the 251 method. 251 is for specific cultural circumstances. Where these do not apply, I would recommend you stick with the standard 5 questions, and use your facilitation skills to ensure everyone contributes to the dialogue.

what was the objective?
what was actually delivered?
why was there a
difference ? (root causes)
what did we learn?
what are we going to do
about it?

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