At the end of every operation or exercise in the Marines, we do an “after-action review,” or AAR, to capture the lessons of what we had done well and failed to do. Sometimes, units would minimize or mitigate the ugly, so I told my team to “take the gloves off and get brutally honest with each other and ourselves; we were going to get bloody.” We can only get better if we know where we need to improve.
So, that is where we are in November, with the year ending. The AAR is a team effort; all leaders should be involved and expect it to take some time. Rather than spending all your time tabulating wins and losses, start with the results of your highest priority goals. Whether good or bad, the question is “why?” Did you have a great plan, proper resourcing, solid processes, and excellent execution? Walk the dog backward from the result you got through goals, mission and purpose, vision and values. Capture the lessons. Now consider the unexpected success that blew you away and whether it is repeatable and scalable. Are there implications for your long-term goals and vision? Don’t spend much time on lesser priority goals unless they were an unexpected success.
Now you have your lessons, and you can apply the four decisions to start, reinforce, reduce, or stop something. Your lessons show you what needs to change. In the Marines, we reinforce success in battle, not failure, and remember that doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Today, start assessing your performance, and in two weeks, we will discuss the plan of attack for next year.
If you need help with assessment or learning more about leadership, sign up for my newsletter or set an appointment at the link below.
Remember, “all things are possible through prayer and heavy deadlifts.”