After action reviews- a new method

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Providing Us an Effective Alternative to Traditional AARs

Craig Cunningham, Superintendent of the Ruby Mountain Hotshots, has come up with a new way to structure After Action Reviews (AAR) that is making a positive difference on his crew. Previously, AARs were often vague debriefings which many people said were “broken”, but the new PLOWS structure changes how the AAR is used. The mnemonic PLOWS stands for Plan, Leadership, Obstacles, Weaknesses, and Strengths. By asking questions related to each topic, such as “Was the leader’s intent communicated and sufficient?” a safety and learning focused AAR can be conducted while encouraging crew participation. Some crews have been putting PLOWS into practice and observed that their discussion of the obstacles encountered one day led directly to a plan of improvements for the next. The PLOWS format is said to be working well for crews that have adopted it and influences small changes as well as larger goals for the upcoming season. Cunningham encourages others to try new AAR formats and share what works so others may benefit. Learn how to implement the PLOWS method of AAR on page 6 of the issue of “Two More Chains” linked below.