Book Image

After Action Review: Continuous Improvement Made Easy

By : Artie Mahal
Book Image

After Action Review: Continuous Improvement Made Easy

By: Artie Mahal

Overview of this book

Even if we're not consciously aware of it, we're constantly seeking improvement. This continual quest for improvement begins when you start differentiating between "what was" and "what could be." Through this book, you’ll learn how to apply both informal and formal continuous improvement approaches to reflect upon and analyze your individual work or the work of your team. The book begins by covering the basic facilitation skills that you'll need to conduct an AAR. These skills include active listening, questioning, information gathering and analysis, managing group dynamics, and more. You'll dive deep into the AAR technique and explore all its aspects in detail including its value proposition and frameworks. As you progress through the book, you'll explore the informal and formal approaches to AAR and understand the situations where each can be used. By the end of the book, you’ll be able to apply this technique and its fundamentals to assess the improve the outcome of your project you undertake or a life event.
Table of Contents (8 chapters)


What did we do well? And how can we replicate that so we can repeat it time and time again?

What did not go well? And how can we prevent that from ever happening again?

Fairly simple questions. But if we focus on the answers, they provide us with a pathway to future success. After nearly every activity, asking these questions during a time of reflection is necessary and important. We want to continuously repeat the behaviors and actions that result in positive results or rewards. We want to learn from mistakes, and prevent these from happening again.

Whether this time of reflection is done at the completion of a multi-million-dollar project impacting hundreds of stakeholders, or after a personal Do It Yourself (DIY) project you took on at home, this reflection helps us enforce the good behaviors and prevent the bad ones. It forces us to confront our mistakes with the goal of learning from them, and hopefully never repeating them again. This process reinforces and celebrates the good behaviors, thus increasing the chance of repeating those, while pointing out the bad behaviors to prevent these from recurring. It sounds easy enough…but to do it well requires the right mix of science and art.

Getting that mix of science and art just right is the key. My good friend and colleague Artie Mahal has done us all a favor by writing this book about how to best perform After Action Reviews. In this book, he provides us with the secret of getting that mix just right. As someone who has dedicated his life’s work to helping organizations work better, smarter, and more efficiently, Artie has opened up his “tool box” for us. In this book, he provides us with a methodology to help us learn from the lessons of having completed a task or major project. What he points out to us is that the beauty of the process is that it is fairly simple and straightforward, but it requires the discipline to do it right. Artie has provided us with the tools to help us get it right the first, and every, time.

I have known Artie for over 25 years. We were colleagues at Mars, Incorporated for several years, and since then I have tapped into his knowledge and expertise for Process Management, Facilitation skills, and After Action Reviews several times. He has a passion for these topics, and is a natural at helping organizations increase their effectiveness. I’m grateful that he has taken the time to share some of his established and proven processes with all of us. You will be too. And your entire organization will benefit greatly from utilizing the practices spelled out in this wonderful book.

Paul Marabella

Vice President and Chief Information Officer

K. Hovnanian Companies, LLC.