Avionics News July 2012 - 48

series

BUSINESS BASICS
B Y G R E G L A S L O

Learning Lessons
How to Use After-Action Reviews to Improve Your Shop’s Operations
hat’s in a name? Everything. Take “post mortem.” It sounds dreadful, even if the idea – a close review of a project upon its completion – offers a helpful, necessary snapshot of how work around your shop gets done. The dread grows from one seed: the belief among your people that the entire process focuses only on determining who’s at fault when the latest job withers on the vine. Yet by doing so, they are shorting themselves of the opportunity to become better at their jobs through learning not only what went sideways, but also what went well. As a result, systemic errors never get fixed, nor are successful practices consistently repeated. It is not entirely their fault, especially if such a review occurs only when things go wrong. In their own defense, they resort to CYA mode and clam up as they brace for the punishment to come. Eventually, you’ll quit trying; you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, your business can’t learn, and your people don’t care. There is a better way, according to Charles Parry of Signet Research and Consulting, but that approach requires you to re-examine the role of project reviews, expand them to every project
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and recognize how important they are to establishing a culture of continual improvement. Certainly, capturing lessons learned takes deliberate action and discipline, but it’s how you learn the best practices that occur in your shop’s daily work. If you want to take your shop from good to great, you need to look how everything gets done. Breaking Group Parry calls this approach the actionreview cycle, and it’s an updated, business version of a practice instituted by the U.S. Army in the 1970s. The Army’s review sought to evaluate performance, and the predictable results caused the military to reconsider how it worked through the process. Springing an evaluative process on your employees will have a similar result, unless you first create an environment that allows the kind of constructive conversations the cycle demands. “It’s about learning and improvement,” Parry said. “It feels sort of technical. There are questions you can ask and record-keeping. But, at the end of the day, it’s a social process. It involves people, and it’s people that make it work or not make it work.” People who believe sharing infor-

mation poses more personal risk than reward won’t participate in a meaningful manner. Conversely, when your company uses a review after every project to maximize learning that invariably occurs, and your people know the purpose of the learning is to make them, and the company, more successful, they’re more inclined to participate – doubly so when they can demonstrate they did something intelligent and innovative. Indeed, there’s nothing like one of these regular discussions making a difference for the next customer or getting people to say this is a good use of time. Accomplishing this requires the after-action cycle include more than just a final review at the end. “It’s important you do something at the front end of a project that sets the stage, then refer to and use it as a platform for the after-action review,” Parry said. During this before-action review, your team will be asked to make predictions about the project – how long it will take, when they’ll get to the third or fifth step and generally how they’ll flow through the procedure. You will compare those benchmarks during the after-action review. “The key thing that makes it different than a generic post-mortem – how

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Avionics News July 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Avionics News July 2012

Point of Communication
AEA Now
The View From Washington
International News and Regulatory Updates
Going Glass
Member Profile
Extra Avionics
Member Profile
Glass Panel Upgrades
Aviation Aces
Business Basics
Member Profile
A Conversation With...
Making A Difference
Theory & Practice
Legal Ease
Meet the AEA Staff
What's New
Marketplace Classifies
Avionics News July 2012 - Cover1
Avionics News July 2012 - Cover2
Avionics News July 2012 - 1
Avionics News July 2012 - 2
Avionics News July 2012 - 3
Avionics News July 2012 - Point of Communication
Avionics News July 2012 - 5
Avionics News July 2012 - AEA Now
Avionics News July 2012 - 7
Avionics News July 2012 - 8
Avionics News July 2012 - 9
Avionics News July 2012 - 10
Avionics News July 2012 - 11
Avionics News July 2012 - 12
Avionics News July 2012 - 13
Avionics News July 2012 - The View From Washington
Avionics News July 2012 - 15
Avionics News July 2012 - International News and Regulatory Updates
Avionics News July 2012 - 17
Avionics News July 2012 - 18
Avionics News July 2012 - 19
Avionics News July 2012 - Going Glass
Avionics News July 2012 - 21
Avionics News July 2012 - 22
Avionics News July 2012 - 23
Avionics News July 2012 - Member Profile
Avionics News July 2012 - 25
Avionics News July 2012 - 26
Avionics News July 2012 - 27
Avionics News July 2012 - Extra Avionics
Avionics News July 2012 - 29
Avionics News July 2012 - 30
Avionics News July 2012 - 31
Avionics News July 2012 - 32
Avionics News July 2012 - 33
Avionics News July 2012 - Member Profile
Avionics News July 2012 - 35
Avionics News July 2012 - 36
Avionics News July 2012 - 37
Avionics News July 2012 - Glass Panel Upgrades
Avionics News July 2012 - 39
Avionics News July 2012 - 40
Avionics News July 2012 - 41
Avionics News July 2012 - 42
Avionics News July 2012 - 43
Avionics News July 2012 - Aviation Aces
Avionics News July 2012 - 45
Avionics News July 2012 - 46
Avionics News July 2012 - 47
Avionics News July 2012 - Business Basics
Avionics News July 2012 - 49
Avionics News July 2012 - Member Profile
Avionics News July 2012 - 51
Avionics News July 2012 - 52
Avionics News July 2012 - 53
Avionics News July 2012 - A Conversation With...
Avionics News July 2012 - 55
Avionics News July 2012 - Making A Difference
Avionics News July 2012 - 57
Avionics News July 2012 - Theory & Practice
Avionics News July 2012 - 59
Avionics News July 2012 - Legal Ease
Avionics News July 2012 - 61
Avionics News July 2012 - Meet the AEA Staff
Avionics News July 2012 - 63
Avionics News July 2012 - 64
Avionics News July 2012 - 65
Avionics News July 2012 - What's New
Avionics News July 2012 - 67
Avionics News July 2012 - 68
Avionics News July 2012 - 69
Avionics News July 2012 - Marketplace Classifies
Avionics News July 2012 - 71
Avionics News July 2012 - 72
Avionics News July 2012 - Cover3
Avionics News July 2012 - Cover4
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