Eric Moes, who has experience in the Canadian Army, discusses the importance of after action reviews and how they can prevent future mistakes. He explains that after action reviews are a reflection process that can be done individually or as a team, and they don't have to be bureaucratic or involve paperwork. Reflecting on what went well and what could have been better is a simple example of an after action review.
Moes begins by highlighting his initial reluctance to engage in AARs after leaving the military. Having spent 12 years in the Canadian Army, including service tours in Afghanistan, he had grown tired of the AAR process. However, when asked to speak about AARs in the ranching context, Moes realized the potential benefits and significance of this tool.
Drawing from his military background, Moes explains that AARs were commonly conducted after training exercises or missions. In these scenarios, an observer combat controller would facilitate the AAR, acting as a referee and guardian of truth. The commander of the unit would own the AAR process, and the observer controller would provide an objective perspective on what actually happened. This feedback would then be used to improve performance in subsequent training iterations.
Moes acknowledges that the military's approach to AARs often involved excessive paperwork, which detracted from the effectiveness and enjoyment of the process. However, he argues that AARs don't need to be bureaucratic or burdensome. In fact, he suggests that AARs are something humans have been doing since childhood. Whether it's reflecting on a situation alone or discussing it with others, the essence of an AAR lies in the act of introspection and learning from past experiences.
Moes goes on to highlight the added value of conducting AARs as a team. When individuals come together to reflect on their collective experiences, they enhance the AAR process. This collaborative approach allows for a deeper understanding of what went well and what could have been better. He mentions that those familiar with the ranching for profit world may already be familiar with this concept, as it is often practiced at the end of each day. The simple routine of discussing successes and areas for improvement is, in essence, an AAR.
AAR is a culture
AARs are not just a process or technique, but a culture that needs to be fostered within an organization. This culture is characterized by extreme ownership, where individuals take responsibility for their actions and mistakes. It is about being vested in the outcome and being willing to learn and improve.
In the military, this culture of extreme ownership is emphasized, where individuals are encouraged to take ownership of their experiences and mistakes. This culture is also reflected in Jocko Willink's book, Extreme Ownership, which emphasizes the importance of creating a culture where everyone takes ownership of their actions and mistakes.
In the AAR process, rank is still important as it provides different perspectives. However, it should never be used to dismiss someone else's experience or perspective. Each individual's perspective is valuable and contributes to creating a shared narrative. By valuing and respecting different perspectives, a culture of openness and collaboration can be fostered.
AARs are not just about reflecting on past experiences, but also about taking action and implementing the lessons learned. It is about immediately embodying these lessons and putting them into practice in the next iteration of action. Without taking action, AARs become meaningless and are reduced to mere academic exercises.
Ranching for profit can greatly benefit from embracing the AAR culture. By conducting regular AARs, ranchers can reflect on their decisions and actions, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions moving forward. AARs can help ranchers learn from their mistakes and continuously improve their operations.
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