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A Facilitation Tool To Capture Lessons Learnt

Group of persons in a discussion
Group facilitation

Are you looking for a facilitation technique to reflect on lessons learnt? The After Action Review is a useful tool that can be applied to any situation, from review of a team's collaboration to the evaluation or assessing the results from a project's implementation.

During an Action Review, the facilitator asks either "What Happened?" questions, "What Worked? questions" or "What About Next Time?" questions.

What Happened Questions

  1. What was supposed to happen?

  2. What actually happened?

  3. What were the differences?

These questions establish a common understanding of the work item under review. The facilitator should encourage and promote discussion around these questions. In particular, things that did not go as planned should be explored.

What worked questions
  • What worked?

  • What didn't work?

  • Why?

These questions generate reflection about the successes and failures during the course of the project, activity, event or task. The question ‘Why?’ generates an understanding of the root causes of these successes and failures.

What about next time questions
  • What would you do differently next time?

This question is intended to help identify specific, actionable recommendations to promote learning. The facilitator asks the team members for crisp and clear, achievable and future-oriented recommendations.

During my facilitation sessions I do a variation where I also ask "What remedial actions can we take for things that did not go so well?" I find that this encourages participants to identify concrete solutions to implement going forward.


Better Evaluation. After Action Review.


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​​​Ann-Murray Brown

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