Turning data analysts into Navy SEALs

Four Navy SEAL's exiting water

How often do you walk out of a meeting and think…

Was that good?
Could we have performed better?
I thought the team was good but I certainly could have been better prepared.
That said, Catherine was fantastic.

We have meetings day in day out (probably too many) but when do we stop and think — can we make this better?


How often do we grab the moment, right there and then, to give each attendee open and honest feedback?

Probably never.

When reading The Culture Code the passage that jumped out and excited the Journey Further team was that about the Navy SEALs After-Action Review (AAR) — which is ironic because we hate all acronyms at Journey Further.

The passage explains that…

“At the Navy SEALs, such uncomfortable, candor-filled moments happen in the After-Action Review or AAR. The AAR is a gathering that takes place immediately after each mission or training session: Team members put down their weapons, grab a snack and water, and start talking… Where did we fail? What did each of us do, and why did we do it? What will we do differently next time? AARs can be raw, painful, and filled with pulses of emotion and uncertainty.”

“It’s probably the most crucial thing we do together, aside from the missions themselves, because that’s where we figure out what really happened and how to get better.”

“Having one person tell other people what to do is not a reliable way to make good decisions. So how do you create conditions where that doesn’t happen, where you develop a hive mind? How do you develop ways to challenge each other, ask the right questions, and never defer to authority? We’re trying to create leaders among leaders. And you can’t just tell people to do that. You have to create the conditions where they start to do it.”

“His approach to nurturing cooperation could be described as an insurgent campaign against authority bias. Merely creating space for cooperation.”

“The goal of an AAR is not to excavate truth for truth’s sake, or to assign credit or blame, but rather to build a shared mental model that can be applied for future missions.”

So at Journey Further we thought we would also start creating the conditions for leaders among leaders. We’ve invented a new meeting that we’ll now test — it’s called ‘The Immediate Review’… (sorry no acronym here).

– It’s really simple
– It happens after every client meeting (both internal and external)
– For a maximum of 1 minute every attendee gives feedback on their performance and everyone else’s

As we’ve reflected more on the book, it’s become clear that everyone showing vulnerability will be key to The Immediate Review’s success.

How does your team approach giving feedback to each other? What else stood out from The Culture Code? We would love to hear from you.