What is an AAR/Peer Assist/ Retrospect?

These are three of the simplest tools that you can apply in your organization to learn before, during and after. All three are focused meetings, involving the project team or work team.

A Peer Assist is a structured, facilitated meeting or workshop where people are invited from other business units, or other businesses, to share their experience, insights and knowledge with a team who have requested some help.  It is important that not only true peers attend the meeting, but the right peers as well.  Usually personal networks or company yellow-pages are great places to start identifying your peers.

The After Action Review is a short, focused meeting, for the team, by the team, lasting half an hour or less.  This sort of routine team learning allows you to make mid-course corrections in your project, based on what you learn.  It allows you to address and optimize the way you work as a team, and it allows you to start to build your collective operational knowledge.  The AAR was first used by the U.S. Army, but now is widely understood to be a very effective way for a team to learn—it also promotes openness and a strong sense of “team” and “community”.

A Retrospect is a knowledge capture event at the end of a project, involving as many of the project team as possible.  It is a quick and effective way of capturing the knowledge before the team disbands.  It is a structured and facilitated meeting, which lasts from a couple of hours to a couple of days.  If the team was ad hoc and is about to disband, it is helpful if a member from the next team to undertake a similar business challenge participates in the discussion.  In this way a Retrospect for one team can also serve as a Peer Assist for the next.