Novelist George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. That’s all well and good, but how do you and your ambitious venture remember the past? How do you learn from what you’ve done? In the 1970’s, the US Army developed the After Action Review as a tool for groups and individuals to learn from their experiences.
Despite its relic status, this tool can be used in any venture to increase productivity, improve performance and avoid mistakes. An AAR can take five minutes or months depending on the action, people involved and organizational need.
But whatever the scope, they should be done immediately after, or even during, the action itself. Hell, if soldiers are able to do it in the middle of combat or directly after receiving heavy fire, you can too.
Bring the "soldier" into your entrepreneurial mindset. Be a warrior and change the way you handle mistakes by turning failure into strengths. By drilling this military-style of thinking into your head, you will see a drastic improvement in the way you overcome adversity. Without further adieu, here is how to think like a Warrior-Entrepreneur and weaponize your past mistakes:
What Did You Want To Happen?
The first question to address in your AAR is what was supposed to happen. What did you, your managers and employees want to happen? This question can also help determine if your organization is communicating effectively.
Compare your plan to what actually happened. What went right or wrong? Here, you can ensure your people are paying attention and know what actually happened.
Why Didn’t Things Go As Planned?
This is where the real learning starts. Examine actions and reactions that caused an alternate outcome than planned. Discuss what went right and what went wrong. Encourage feedback at all levels. No idea, insight or piece of information should be ignored.
What Did You Or Your Organization Learn?
Brainstorm about what can be improved. Ask: Why did this go right? Why did that go wrong? What could have gone better? What could have been done differently to produce a better outcome? Again, welcome input from all levels. Encourage independent thought. This is where your organization learns to perform better in the future.
With the right use, AAR’s can be completed quickly and productively. On a personal level, they can become almost second nature and completed mentally and instinctively. Organizationally, they should be recorded for future reference and use. It may take some getting used to — reprogramming your habits and method of thinking and all — but in the end, what wouldn’t you do for the sake of success?
Venture Clout | Elite.