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Iterative improvement: Make reflective learning work for your firm

After-action reviews can drive continuous improvements in lawyer effectiveness and organisational performance, says Hélène Russell

27 February 2014

Debriefs and reflective learning have existed in a haphazard way since time immemorial. After-action reviews (AAR) aim to formalise post-event learning in order to maximise the benefits for an organisation.

AAR appears to offer considerable benefits, producing bespoke lessons learned which are tailored to a particular organisation, its employees, culture, market and competitors. However, many in the legal sector find that AAR either isn't supported or occurs in such a sterile format that little valuable learning is created or shared.

At its simplest level, learning from experimentation has three basic components:

  1. conducting the experiment;

  2. studying the success or failure of the experiment; and

  3. transferring the lessons learned.

Unfortunately, many organisations get stuck in the first component (plan and act). They spend little time on reflec...

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