The After Action Review: A Knowledge Management Must

The After Action Review – A Knowledge Management MustYou’ve just successfully executed a significant knowledge management project, reconfiguring a large part of your company’s knowledge base and migrating it to a public, customer-facing website, greatly increasing web self-service by the customer, deflecting a significant percentage of call volume away from your customer-service agents, lowering your labor costs and freeing up employees to better serve your high-value clients. Time to celebrate, right? Not yet – first your team needs to conduct an after action review.

Find and Record the “Lessons Learned”

Recognized as one of the most significant knowledge management tools, the after action review has its roots in the military, particularly in the U.S. Army, which has been fine-tuning the process for over 50 years. After a project, participants and stakeholders review what went right, what went wrong, what was unexpected, and how each of these events facilitated – or impeded – the execution of your organization’s knowledge management strategy. Findings are compiled and evaluated for future use and to create a database of “lessons learned” for your organization.

Why Do an After action Review?

Before conducting one, it’s important to remember what an after action review is, and what it is not. It is not a critique – it is a part of the knowledge management system that analyzes what happened during the project. It seeks to learn from individual experiences and to build institutional knowledge while stressing continuous improvement and the standardization of knowledge throughout the organization, allowing employees to understand and empathize with each other’s responsibilities and tasks and creating a workforce that works together with a universal knowledge base.

How To Conduct an After Action Review

Conducting an effective after action review requires a good facilitator. Our team members know how to aggregate facts and ideas into a single message, and we know how to present learned knowledge in a method that your employees and customers can easily retrieve, consume and use in the future. StyleMatters knowledge management specialists have experience helping organizations by combining the divergent experiences of employees and creating and synthesizing their ideas into a coherent after action review that your knowledge management manager can effectively use in the future. A good after action review creates buy-in from both workers and management, with everybody feeling as if they have been listened to and that their opinions matter, and that means wider participation in the knowledge management process going forward.

Knowledge management has become big business, though it is one where software development often overshadows the human element. But you are paying to learn these lessons, and if they are not implemented, you are leaving money on the table, both in terms of dollars-and-cents costs and in terms of employee enthusiasm and engagement.

Philip Tanfield has over a decade of experience working in all manner of print and digital media, including at alternative and community newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and for a variety of online media outlets. In addition to his editorial background, he also has experience in web development, photography, video, event management, customer and client services, print production, and more. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and graduate of Fordham University, he currently lives in Philadelphia.

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