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Proactive reviews - the questions

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 20 January 2013



Proactive reviews - the questions
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 151
Posted DateSunday 20 January 2013 10:07 GMT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
Linkshttp://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/id/proactive-revi ... 
CategoriesAfter Action Review; Knowledge Cafe
PeopleDitte Kolbæk 

You may recall I wrote about Proactive Reviews back in June 2011. Proactive Reviews are a variant of After Action Reviews (AARs) that were first used by the US army as a method for debriefing miliary actions during the Vietnam War.

The Proactive Review was developed much later by Ditte Kolbaek while she worked at Oracle and are a more business focused form of AAR that have been well documented in her book Proactive Reviews - how to make your organisation learn from experience. It's an excellent book with a detailed description of the process and is packed with case studies.

I have recently been reading her book again more deeply, to help sharpen up my Knowledge Cafes as both are conversational tools and have much in common.

If you are already familiar with AARs then this is the heart of the difference between AARS and PRs.

While an After Action Review consists of 4 questions:
  1. What was the goal/what did we set out to do?
  2. What happened?
  3. Why did it happen?
  4. What should we do next time?

Proactive reviews add four more questions:
  1. What is the Purpose of this Proactive Review?
  2. What was the goal/what did we set out to do?
  3. What happened?
  4. Why did it happen?
  5. What should we do next time?
  6. What are we going to report, to whom, when and how?
  7. Which of our topics are important for the organisation?
  8. What was your personal highlight from this Proactive Review?

I don't think I need explain the importance of the additional questions and why Ditte has added them but what I observe is that the first and last questions correspond well with my Knowledge Cafe process.

In recent years, my ideas around the Knowledge Cafe have developed beyond it being solely a tool to "seek a deeper understanding" of a topic. Today, every Kcafe I run is customised. In designing a Kcafe, I start with several questions. The first of which is "What is the purpose of this Knowledge Cafe?" This is later shared in the Kcafe itself. It reminds me - in every thing we do, we should start with Steven Covey's second habit "Begin with the end in mind".

And finally that last question in the Proactive Review corresponds to the end of my Kcafe where I go around the Kcafe circle and ask each participant in turn "What is your one actionable insight you would like to share with everyone?" This final question is frequently the most revealing and what often surprises me is that people take away from very different learnings from a Kcafe - even conflicting ones.

And there is no harm in that. Knowledge is very personal stuff.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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