After-Action Review – Final Presentation

There is a discrepancy between what we experience and what we remember from an experience. According to the Peak-End Rule, conceived by Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman1 and his collaborator Amos Tversky, “people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e., its most intense point) and at its end…”2 rather than judging it as a whole. Thus, the way in which a course ends is very important because it is at this point where key learnings are solidified and because the ending will dominate what participants remember of the entire course experience.

In our experience the best way to conclude a business simulation course is by asking competing teams to do a final presentation, or After-Action Review. During the After-Action Review teams discuss their Mission, Objectives, and Goals and how they compare to their actual results. It provides an opportunity for teams to answer questions regarding their competition, strategies, tactics, successes, struggles, and most importantly – key learnings. Each participant is asked to share a key-learning (or takeaway) that will be applied on-the-job. Ending with a learning question helps participants identify and internalize the value of the course. Also importantly, hearing what their peers learned gives participants a chance to extract “golden-nuggets” they may have missed.

Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, states that asking a “Learning Question… helps finish the conversation strong, rather than just fading away. Asking ’What was most useful for you?’ helps to reinforce learning and development.”3

Simple well-phrased questions can power a strong course closing: a closing where participants fully absorb the learnings; a closing with the added benefit of participants judging the simulation course as something valuable and useful. For many of us, this is our favorite part of a simulation course.

1. It is strongly suggested to check out Daniel Kahneman’s detailed and interesting exposition of experience vs. memory.

2. Peak–end rule. In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 31, 2018. From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak%E2%80%93end_rule.

3. Bungay Stanier, Michael (2016, March 1). 7 essential questions all great managers ask their employees. From: https://www.businessinsider.com/questions-successful-managers-ask-employees-2016-3.

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