- What did you intend to happen?
- End state, operational guidelines, timelines, everything else you need. Brief, but complete. Might take a couple minutes. For field exercises, maps and so on can be broken out. Use whatever documents are required, and be specific.
- Should be given by whoever was in charge of the project, or currently is. Probably the PM.
- What really happened?
- The leadership (whoever did the Plan, and generally anyone else who could be considered a leader) does not talk. Or, if there are a lot of them and the input would be good at this phase, does not talk first.
- Try to go around the table, and get everyone to provide input. Make sure to engage. Even if they say "it was said" then ask which one they would have said. It assures they feel engaged, and they might have misheard; they might have a slightly different point to make.
- Compare to the Plan step. Looking for deltas here, and considering it like this helps make it more brief. Improvements over the Plan are fine. Cover all deltas.
- Do not say why anything happened. Just what happened.
- Why did those things happen?
- Everyone can talk. If leaders seem to be taking over, or anyone steps on someone else, stop it. One person talks, and the point is put up, and that's it. Minimal or no discussion, except if the person bringing up the issue says they are not sure why; then go to raising hands, and one person responds at a time. Keep this under control.
- You can consolidate items in the Performance step to single issues.
- Try not to bring up Issues that are not gaps in Performance.
- Again, discuss positive changes.
- Participants might disagree. Try to come to agreement, so you can move to the next phase.
- What could be done differently, and what the same, in the future?
- Try to address each Issue in the above list. Try not to discuss Fixes for things not already discussed.
- Classify each item as "Improve" or "Sustain."
- Note that many Sustain items are small,; the point is to expand them to larger states sometimes.
- Fixes should still not be personal; don't take people off projects, but provide training, provide more communications, things like that.
- Everything must be actionable. Even Sustains. Assign a person (not a team, an individual). That individual must be there, and agree to it. Even if they can't fix, they can find the person who can fix it, and it's still their responsibility.
- Ideally, arrange to follow up. Some method of keeping track of these so when the next project kicks off things have changed, and when the next AAR notes are entered, the moderator can say "hey, this happened last time? Why didn't you fix it yet?"