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Front-line stories of Emergent Learning disciplines

Since the look and feel of Emergent Learning disciplines varies widely to match an organization’s needs and culture, the best way to understand them is through examples of real-world challenges and solutions:

Corporate transformation through local learning disciplines using AARs

An increasingly competitive environment led DTE Energy, a $7 billion, 10,000 employee power company, to deliberately focus on shedding old habits left over from its days as a public utility (Detroit Edison). AARs became a core element of the company’s change strategy. “ AARs gave people permission to talk about hard issues in a learning mode, without being accusatory,” observed CEO Tony Earley. “And I think the organization was hungry for that sort of vehicle.”

Their success stems from a confluence of three factors that come from DTE’s growing understanding of Emergent Learning:

  • Visibly adopting the same learning discipline in the executive suite that they wanted to establish throughout the organization;
  • Searching for the areas of the business that would most benefit from an investment in disciplined learning and greater accountability; and
  • Building grassroots interest and capacity to use AARs for locally relevant challenges.

DTE’s Executive Committee (EC) set the tone by using AARs to hone their ability to do large transactions, using its successful merger with Michigan Consolidated Gas as the starting point. As the senior leader, Earley modeled the candor he was seeking from his executive team. That first session was seen as a watershed moment. Lessons taken from that first AAR propelled the EC to improve the structure of its deal team and its handling of investment bankers; to do more effective due diligence; and better negotiate several subsequent non-merger transactions. The EC began to apply AARs to other priorities in their work: EC and Board meetings, major press releases, and relationships with the financial community, including quarterly earnings reports.

AAR practices have sprung up in parts of the business that have the most to gain from them. Teams use AARs to better manage storm response, plan for costly planned shut downs, provide more safe and reliable protection to customers when wires go down, and manage construction projects, with other locally relevant practices springing up across the company

For further details, please read "Cultivating a Learning Economy: After Action Reviews Generate Ongoing Value for DTE Energy".

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