man snowboarding and falling into the snow

You hired a new account executive to help grow your business and put her in charge of the team with the most demanding client. Your message; develop a new strategy to increase the level of satisfaction of this customer, then expand our reach into other parts of their business. What does she do with her first act? She takes her team on a two-day retreat to determine how the strategy chosen will fail.

How they will fail?

Yep, she is using a technique called the “Before Action Review (BAR)” to assess the failure of a potential strategy.

I am sure you have done or heard of an “After Action Review (AAR)”, an analysis after a project is complete. The AAR gives us the opportunity to prepare for the next event, learning from the past. What if you could predict the future and head off the problems. How great would that be? Well, that is her approach. How effective is it?

Let’s take a look at the process and you decide. Here is the typical AAR Matrix

It is a look back over your shoulder at the plan; what worked, did not work, lessons learned, and how to apply them. This sets you up for the “Next Time”.  However, you want to succeed now. You want to get ahead of the problems and solve them before they appear. In essence, predict the future.

Using the above matrix with some small changes quickly converts it to a “Before Action Review” (BAR), a tool attempting to predict the future.

Before Action Review Table

Now the team is focused on making the project fail, using lessons, experience with this customer, other customers, and other projects to develop a sound strategy. I have seen this become a powerful motivator and produce a robust path to success. You and your teammates diligently seek out weaknesses that will cause failure. No one is defending their success strategy; they are all intent on disrupting success. The result: a list of actions and priorities the team has to address to create success.

How can you implement this technique and what would be the impact on your organization?