The value of debrief


I am very much aware that the world around us is constantly changing, and in some respects becoming stagnant due to lack of activity or interest, but the overall situation throws up all sorts of challenges. I’ve outlined my strategy to adapt and make the most of what I observe. In short: I bring the challenge to my awareness, pause and take stock, prepare and consider options, take decisive action and escape and move on. One vitally important step that comes next is reflection! Reflecting back feeds my awareness again and a progressive cycle is formed. Some considerations I take on board and questions I ask myself during my debrief: 

  • I capture learnings about the situation and discern what I would, knowing what I know now, do differently next time. What changes am I prepared to make in order to ensure I put those observations into practice and avoid a similar or same result?
  • What have I learned about others (their behaviour and perspective) as well as the environment? What exactly can I control or influence to make a difference?
  • I try to acknowledge the things that went well and note the decisions that were pivotal to the successes. I also try to Identify and understand what my thought process was that influenced my actions at the time.
  • Capitalising on the renewed sense of knowledge and enthusiasm, how can I make a difference sooner rather than later? I therefore consider my network and ponder who I can share my insight with – as they can be both internal and external to the situation/case that I’m considering they can bring a different perspective or simply affirm my own conclusions and in turn also learn.

I simply let the debrief happen and try to recognise once it’s in full flow but I also plan in time dedicated to reflection – similar to say an agile/sprint retrospective. It’s in these situations I’ll try and involve another person, to help facilitate – a friend or colleague, and in some cases a dedicated coach. A good coach provides me with a healthy challenge to my thinking process. They ensure I remain objective almost always question my thinking in a way that I’ve not done previously. They can help me see things more clearly especially if I'm fixated with a particular belief.

However, a powerful debrief doesn’t need to call upon others who are of course also experiencing similar challenges. Solo reflection can be fruitful if the environment is right. Here are some of the methods I’ve used in the past. They don't all work every time, but they may for you:

Talking to myself

Literally vocalising aloud a running self interview conversation of the questions outlined above. I’ve only done this a few times and it did work – but only once I get over the prolonged thinking out loud bit.

Journaling/writing a diary

The act of writing can really help with the thought process as putting them into words helps solidify the underlying messages. I find once the ball is rolling, lots of useful thoughts keep coming and it can be hard to capture it all at once. I often start with a template or a simple mind map of my initial thoughts to fill in the detail on my second parse.

Walking/exercising

It’s said that we have our best ideas when out walking. The act of walking can give me the clarity of mind to really focus on the topic at hand. Secondary benefits include exposure to the great outdoors, fresh air and a change of scenery.

Reflecting with others

Simply making a commitment to share my debrief via social media can be the fuel I need to ensure I make it objective and focus on learnings to share across my purpose built networks.

I also keep in mind that reflection is cause for celebration – as it implies that I’m moving on from battling down within the weeds and offers the respite of an more open panoramic view!

12Feb
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