By Dr. Harry Tennant


by Harry Tennant
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Entries with keyword: checklist
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Monday, August 10, 2015

The after action review rubric/checklist run chart

I am a big fan of the after action review (AAR)...taking the time to talk about the plan, what went right, what went wrong and what to do differently...after each significant action. It is a simple and effective improvement tool from the military. We use it here at Edclick after tradeshows, big customer meetings and so on.

I am also a big fan of the checklist...a simple tool to ensure you don't skip any steps in a process. One place we use checklists is in setting up systems for new customers. We don't want to inadvertantly leave any steps out. But what about situations where you have to respond on the fly and referring to a checklist would be awkward? For example, we have used checklists for the perfect discussion with a prospect at a tradeshow. It goes from what is the prospect's job to did you ask for their contact info for a follow up demo. You would be amazed at how easy it is to forget the basic stuff in the heat of the moment. For situations like this, the checklist can't be pulled out to check off items. It must be internalized. Well, how good a job do we do following an internalized checklist?

I'm a big fan of the rubric. Checklists with yes/no answers are simpler so are preferable to rubrics. But in cases where a yes/no answer isn't good enough, the rubric is the thing. Rubrics can give a score to each line item.

And I am a big fan of the run chart. Run charts are a great quality tool to show how you are doing in a process over time.

Can we put them all together? You bet.

Create a spreadsheet page where each action (as in after action review) or each assignment (as in writing assignment in school) is represented by a column. Each item in the checklist is represented by a row. If a checklist item didn't get done in a particular action/assignment, mark the corresponding cell. If you're using a rubric instead of a checklist, color code the cell green-yellow-red for a three level score or lighter to darker shades of a color for more score levels. Weather maps and topographical maps have worked out color codes to represtent a wide range of values if you need them.

There you have it. The after action review rubric/checklist run chart. You can see at a glance whether you're improving with time (the run chart benefit) if your color codes are getting better as you move forward in time, left to right on the chart. You can also quickly see the rubric/checklist item that is giving you the most problems, which is the one that should receive special attention until you have it mastered.

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Keywords: continuous improvement, run chart, checklist, after action review, rubric

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