Our client, the UKI affiliate of a multi-national healthcare organisation, wanted to create a new culture of continuous learning which they realised was needed to address customer needs in todays ever changing healthcare market. Against a backdrop of increasing complexity and downward cost pressures, new ways of working were certainly required in order to be successful and the best way to achieve this was to embed continuous and versatile learning to create much greater agility and responsiveness that would make them THE respected, trusted and chosen partner of their customers.
This organisation is a strong matrix corporation with global business units (verticals) supported by functions (horizontals) on a local and regional basis. They adopted the After Action Review (AAR) as a means to ensure that they learned from both their regional experiences in one business unit or function, as well as sharing this learning across the whole organisation for greater application and utility.
AAR is a simple process used by teams to capture the lessons learned from past successes and failures, with the goal of improving future performance. The attraction of AAR to this Company was the simplicity of the process and the speed with which the transfer of learning could be achieved.
An AAR requires a trained facilitator, ideally one not involved in the event under review, who takes the group through the process and very importantly, holds the group to account for several ground rules. Often the most challenging is to ensure that the focus of the review is about learning within a safe environment where there is no blame laid at anyone’s door nor any comeback if something has fallen short of expectations. To overcome this, the Company ensured that the UK Leadership Team were among those first trained as facilitators, both improving their understanding and demonstrating their commitment to the process.
In order to truly embed this powerful learning tool across the Company, they decided to conduct AAR cascade training across the local organisation. In addition to the 32 facilitators that were trained, a further less intensive employee programme was developed so that each employee should be an AAR ambassador and able to conduct an AAR simply and informally as part of their everyday business. If an event or project was more complex or significant, then one of the trained facilitators could be called upon. It was important that people knew not only how to call for an AAR but also when to call one and how to behave during one.
In total over 250 people have been trained in the AAR process so far in the UK, within this Company.
This Company now has a Sharepoint that all UK employees can access which records the key learnings of AAR’s. Learnings are kept succinct and so are quickly and easily identifiable. All major projects have an AAR after every key milestone and at the end of the project. The AAR process has now attracted attention from Europe and UK facilitators have already been asked to run sessions outside the UK as it is deemed such a great process and supports several of the global core values and competencies.
Employees who have participated in AAR’s report that they are encouraged by how effective AAR is. They know they can be honest without fear of blame and recognise that the purpose is for this Company to learn from events that went well and those that went less well. They see how the process makes them more effective as an organisation as a whole and move faster to implement beneficial changes. It is still early days in the implementation of AAR but they see its potential having a really positive impact on their customers and the level of service and partnership they provide. They also see it brings opportunities to employees for their own personal development, particularly around constructive challenge and a continuous improvement mindset. Rather than walking away from problems, their culture is now to walk towards them.