The after, after action review

Defining when work is done is not always cut and dry. The definition of done is murky in many situations because responsibilities are often slice and diced among many individuals that work in succession to do their part and hand it off to someone else, much like factory work to assemble a car. Each person sees done as the point where they pass the car on to the next person.

Whether work is done in a factory or an office, I think we can all agree that work isn’t complete until someone benefits from the outcome. Until it provides some value to the intended recipient. I guess this is assuming the endeavor has not been abandoned due to failure.

It’s wise when work completes to do some sort of review to solidify new learning and to improve in the future. An after action review is a great way to compare what actually happened to what should have happened, and to think about what might be done different next time.

The value necessary to justify many investments isn’t something that materializes over night. It’s beneficial to do a review when the work is complete and people begin to reap the benefits. But, what about all the value that may be derived thereafter?

If we want to refine our ability to make wise investment decisions, we need a way to reflect upon the value of work we’ve done. And not just the value at the point when we complete the effort of the investment, but also the impact thereafter. Perhaps our efforts will need a little fine tuning down the line to maximize the value.

Figuring this out requires some sort of after, after action review. Depending on the nature of work, when doing an after action review, a reasonable question to ask could be: “When should we review the results.” And, “Who will make sure the review takes place.”

What might you learn from an after, after action review?