After the Exercise: Using Change Management Theory to Improve After-Action Event Outcomes [open pdf - 722KB]
From the Thesis Abstract: "Preparedness agencies fail to act on gaps identified by exercises; instead, they repeat exercises and never move to resolve issues. After-action reports document exercise findings, but are not shared with forward-facing staff who do the work. Agencies spend federal money exercising capabilities, but fail to implement changes recommended by exercise evaluations. Yet some agencies are able to report successful after-action events and document improved capability performance. This thesis interviewed exercise professionals to identify common success factors and innovative solutions to after-action process challenges. It also surveyed preparedness employees to determine if after-action experiences differ by authority level. The thesis reviewed corporate change management literature looking for common steps to manage change and improve capabilities for emergency management agencies. The survey results show exercise participants experience after-action events differently based partly on their authority level. In particular, employees at an agency's forefront are less likely to see policy changes or be given an opportunity to read after-action documents and improvement plans. The literature review indicates specific interventions that can alleviate this, and the interviews illustrate instances where changes have been successfully applied. The thesis finally recommends specific strategies to increase the success of improvement plans."
Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library: https://calhoun.nps.edu/