After Action Review focuses on four key questions:
A lack of ongoing evaluation of projects expecting to change practice can be costly to any organisation due to redundant project work, and repetition of mistakes. It is suggested that a properly conducted AAR can be an influential method to use in any organization, understanding that every action is an opportunity for learning. It can become part of the communication process that educates, informs and motivates a project group, by ensuring they continue to do the right thing. It can prevent future confusion ensuring lessons are learnt from successes and mistakes.
The Practice Development Team undertakes projects which affect all areas of the Trust, and potentially impact on the outcomes for patients, and/or the service, and/or the staff. An aim of CLAHRC SY TK2A theme is to identify key success factors about getting research into practice which can help embed project learning into the organisation.
All participants were briefed about the purpose of AAR before the session began. All the AAR’s were observed by the same individual, notes taken, and were audio-taped with the participants’ permission. Detailed written notes of the discussions were recorded by the observer. The audio tape was listened to afterwards for clarification and to add any points that may have been missed to the notes. Written feedback from the observation notes and audio tape transcription was sent to the lead of the group for each of the projects who took part.
A 12 item questionnaire on the perceived value of elements of the AAR process was distributed to staff taking part at the end of each AAR. It used a Likert scale of strongly agree to strongly disagree, and took 10 minutes to complete. There were 18 responses from 24 staff; respondents also had the opportunity to add free text comments to the questionnaire.
The role of the facilitator in the AAR’s
All of the AAR’s had a facilitator trained in AAR to guide the team through the AAR process. The facilitators followed the steps and guidelines for conducting AAR’s by setting the climate for the AAR. Ground rules for openness, honesty, and confidentiality were discussed, and the facilitator allowed and encouraged all participants to contribute. The facilitator also aimed to keep the group on track, answering the four key AAR questions, and to keep to time. The facilitator was independent and unfamiliar with the projects, and was therefore able to ask probing questions to the groups which helped them to reflect and recall events to add to the discussion.