10 Questions to Ask Before Conducting a Review

Review is a key tool for almost all forms of learning. Whether you call it an “after action report” or a “personal reflection”, we must review our actions if we are to learn from them.

Choosing the right form of review is a skilled task, more art than science. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself before you dive into your next review

1. Do we want to review what just happened?

Sometimes it’s important to review as a group, sometimes it’s best to let the action speak for itself. The individual’s reflection over time may be enough.

2. Are we ready to review yet?

Even if we want to review the action, are the participants in a state where it will be useful? Could they do with more time to process what just happened or are they bursting to share their thoughts?

3. Is this the right time to review?

Even if we feel ready to review what just happened, is it worth leaving until we have eaten or are less tired, or do we need to capture the learning now?

4. Are we in the right location to review?

Sometimes it helps to be at the scene of the action, sometimes some distance is useful. Is this setting inspirational, will it help anchor the learning. Are there distractions and are they useful?

5. Are the right people here to ensure a successful review?

Do we need the whole group here? Should we split into smaller groups? Do some people need to reflect on their own? With or without leaders/trainers?

6. What role will I have in the review?

Should I contribute? Facilitate? Sit quietly? Be absent? Observe?

7. What format and structure will the review take?

Options include: Group discussion, written reports, structured notes, questionnaires, presentations, personal conversations, pictures, slideshows.

8. What tools do I have available to me during the review?

Do I have access to exercises, models, pictures and theories that might help explain my points, or help others to make theirs?

9. Are we going to capture the review for further review?

Is the review of interest to anyone other than the participants? Will they want a chance to revisit the review again later? Will they be building on this review?

10. If we are, how?

Sometimes taking notes is useful, what about video? Is there a formal system in place for reflection that needs to be completed?