Does it work? The answer is an unqualified, "Yes." According to organizational learning expert, Peter Senge:
"The Army's After Action Review is arguably one of the most successful organizational learning methods yet devised."Thank you, Peter. How is it being used by businesses?
" ...it's startling how little of the Army's integrated approach to learning has carried over to the business world."Anything else, Peter?
"Most every corporate effort to graft this truly innovative practice into their culture has failed because, again and again, people reduce the living practice of AARs to a sterile technique."Even though AAR's have not gained traction at the organizational level, they can be used to great benefit in one-on-one coaching situations.
The Positive Coaching Alliance, which was founded by Jim Thompson, is a non-profit within the Stanford University Athletic Department. Its mission is Transforming Youth Sports So Sports Can Transform Youth. They carry out their mission by conducting live workshops for the leaders, coaches, parents, and athletes of youth sports organizations - from pre-school to high school.
In its workshop for parents, the PCA draws a map showing how they can frame and conduct learning conversations with their kids. Specifically, they list some questions parents can ask their kids to help them learn from a practice or game experience they just had. In other words, an AAR. In addition to letting kids think and decide things for themselves, this approach encourages parents to be servant leaders, or ones who see their role as bringing out the greatness that already resides within their kids, rather than trying to manufacture something that does not.
This is a great tool to add to your coaching tool box. It's simple and easy to remember and use. In the short term, it will serve as a catalyst for learning conversations. Over the long haul, it will bring out the very best the person you're coaching has to offer.
- What was the most enjoyable part of today's practice/game?
- What worked well?
- What didn't turn out so well?
- What did you learn that can help you in the future?
- Any thoughts on what you'd like to work on before the next game?
- Any thoughts on what you've learned that might help you in other parts of your life?
"The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there." - John Buchan
"Coaching is unlocking a person's potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them." - Tim Gallwey
"I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable." - John Russell, Harley-Davidson Europe
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"To encourage, to comfort, to awaken, and to stretch those who find themselves riding this big ball as it screams thru time in the silence of space. To be a bridge, not a barricade. To be a link, not a lapse. To be a beacon and a bolster; not a bragger or a bummer. To help bring the corners of life's lips to their summit. To be a friend to those who find their fit a little awkward in this chaos society calls living." - Vess Barnes III