Recommended Reading: How Organizations Learn: Investigate, Identify, Institutionalize

November 3, 2007 — Posted by Jim Trott

After Action Reviews are one of the primary methods for learning-while-doing. One can think of the Scrum Retrospection as one type of AAR. I have implemented the AAR widely in organizations, both technical and business, both small team and larger organizations. It is a simple technique that you should consider using in your organization in your journey toward lean.

Now, Quality Press, the publishing arm of the American Society for Quality, has published a new book on this powerful technique called How Organizations Learn: Investigate, Identify, Institutionalize by Patrick Townsend and Joan Gebhardt. It is certainly recommended reading.

Note: If you are a member of ASQ, you can get the book for a 40% discount.

If you have any questions about AAR, I would be more than happy to talk with you!

Here is the publisher's overview of the book:

Organizations learn effectively by following a three-step cycle: investigating the situation; identifying failures and successes; and institutionalizing the lessons so that they become “the way things are done.” This book examines this 3-I learning cycle as it is used in the United States Army. Prominent companies such as General Electric, Motorola, Harley-Davidson, and Amoco have taken advantage of the army’s experiences as they’ve moved through this cycle, reinventing themselves as learning organizations. These companies and more have gleaned valuable lessons from the army’s After-Action Reviews (AARs) and Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALLs).

Parallels are drawn between the Army’s experience and the quality movement. Among the similarities are the idea that everything can be improved and the emphasis on integrating working and learning, with each supporting the other.

The concepts of AARs and CALLs, like many quality tools, are relatively straightforward and easy to understand. Nonetheless, they require dedication and perseverance to implement fully and sustain. As with all quality concepts and tools, though, the results easily justify the effort!

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About the author | Jim Trott

Jim Trott is a senior consultant for Net Objectives. He has used object-oriented and pattern-based analysis techniques throughout his 20 year career in knowledge management and knowledge engineering. He is the co-author of Design Patterns Explained: A New Perspective on Object-Oriented Design, Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility, and the Lean-Agile Pocket Guide for Scrum Teams.



        

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