A few years ago I was reading a blog from the Google analytics guru Avinash Kaushik. The blog was talking about how you can bring a qualitative element into your website optimization process.
He advocated a remarkably simple three question survey that you could ask your visitors to determine how effective there visit was:
- What was the purpose of your visit?
- Did you achieve your purpose?
- If not, why not?
Those three questions were all he believed you needed to gain a good understanding at how effective your website was in serving the needs of visitors.
I believe he eventually created a new service to help with the roll out of just such a survey, but I can’t quite recall for certain.
Anyway, the point of this blog isn’t website analytics but feedback within the enterprise. For you see, the three question survey highlighted above wasn’t something that Kaushik, but rather had its origins in an army practice called After Action Review (AAR).
The idea is to solicit a frank and candid exchange of views as to what has gone on at a particular moment in time, with the AAR acting as a simple mechanism towards achieving that.
In its simplest form, the AAR requires you to answer three core questions:
- What was supposed to happen?
- What actually happened?
- Why were there differences?
As with the three question survey recommended by Kaushik at the start of this post, the value in this approach is its simplicity, because this allows it to be done very quickly and very easily.
An AAR can be a short and frequently undertaken process, or you can use it as the framework for more detailed explorations of what has gone on. They can be done face to face or, increasingly, via virtual tools such as email, forums and enterprise social networks.
They undoubtedly won’t solve all of your problems, but they can form an easy part of your continuous learning, both as individuals and collectively as an organization.