Case Studies

AARs as a tool to learn and improve our services


Within our NEL Healthcare Consulting team, we wanted to develop our culture of continuous learning and improvement. This meant increasing the quality of our review of activities and projects on completion and giving attention to untoward events in our day to day work to capture learnings, have open discussions and ask difficult questions in a fair and inclusive way.


After reviewing a number of alternatives, we chose to introduce the After Action Review (AAR) approach to provide an additional means of sharing expertise through the workforce and embedding a continuous improvement mindset. The approach requires skilled facilitation through a structured debrief process that reduces the barriers of blame and hierarchy and increases accountability and learning.

AAR Conductor training has been provided to the majority of our NEL Healthcare Consulting team, members of other teams in our organisation and external clients.


The AAR approach has had a lasting effect on both the quality and consistency of our consultancy service and driven an increased responsiveness to issues and concerns.

AARs we have held are leading to significant and profound learning for individual team members about both the behavioural and technical aspects of our work as well as shaping how we plan for new projects.

We are being asked to lead bespoke AARs for clients to help them learn from difficult experiences and convert that knowledge into action. The strategy team at a Kent University has adopted AAR as a way of working, helping them to understand the barriers to effective change. Our client said, “everyone talks about learning lessons in the NHS but this is the first time that I’ve actually seen it being done properly”.

Internally, our standard operating procedures now include the recommendation that AARs are conducted as part of each phase of a project, and Before Action Reviews are now being introduced to enhance and align focus prior to starting work on new projects.

Our experienced AAR Conductors are available to advise on and lead AARs for a wide range of events and projects. We provide generic or bespoke training at our sites or those of our clients to groups of up to 16 people. Please contact Judy Walker for further details.

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