And how about debriefing?

12 May

>I’m the boss, I’m the king,
meeting, briefing, brainstorming..

That’s how one recent Czech song describes the life of a busy nowadays manager. We live in a very fast-paced world and in our daily quests to do as many things as possible, we sometimes forget to slow down, to take a step back and to think about what we have recently been doing and what have we learned from it. To take some time off for debriefing!

We make lot of our decisions subconsciously using our intuition or we often rely on others to make decisions instead of us. By asking the right kind of questions debriefing allows us (and the other people around us) to understand what has just happened more in depth and to use it as a valuable experience for our future. It can also be a great bonding exercise.

I debrief often just on my own, with my team or, when running a seminar, with a large group of people.

Debriefing your own.
After an interesting experience I like to take time just for myself and to reflect of what I have just done and heard, to try to understand things beyond their face value and to try to put them down. My friend Sebastian likes to draw mind-maps of his leanings, somebody else writes a diary (or a blog!) and other people just sit down and think in their minds. The bottom line is that we draw simple and memorable conclusions of what we have just experienced so that we can use them in the future.

Debriefing with a team.
Regular debriefings are in my opinion one of the most important signs of well functioning teams. I like to take a time off with my team when we just sit down together somewhere quiet and we reflect our past experiences. We try to create a relaxed and supportive atmosphere in which we can openly share how we felt, we give each other feedback and at the same time we think how we come across as a team and how much impact are we having. It is very important to understand each others opinions on these issues and each others working styles as it such understanding can easily prevent future conflicts.

Debriefing with a large group.
Debriefing with lot of other people you do not know very well can be a powerful exercise if done properly. It is again important to create an open and supportive atmosphere in which people will feel comfortable to stand up and share with others what they have learned and how they felt/feel.

In AIESEC we often organize conferences where we run sessions for our members to inspire them and to develop their skills set. One of my favourite ways of structuring these sessions is to let the delegates play a game which puts them them in a certain situation – e.g. tests their team-working, leadership and time-management skills – and than let them debrief by giving them a set of questions to answer firstly in small groups and than with everyone.

This is very effective for three reasons. Firstly, as I mentioned earlier, people do not often realize what they have just learned – saying it out loud forces them to think about it and to therefore draw some specific conclusions about it. Secondly they might not be sure if their learning is the right one – they are self-doubtful about the experience they just had. Than it is very useful if they hear reflexions of others. Finally, debriefing in a large group can get very emotional and therefore it contributes a lot to bonding among the group.

And a final tip, it’s best to ask open questions for the purpose of debriefing. That is questions starting with How, Why etc.

So next time you will be busy with meeting, briefing, brainstorming try to find some time for debriefing as well!

One Response to “And how about debriefing?”

  1. Pavel May 13, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    >Good point. I would also add that many people use some illegal stuff to debrief. No matter on what position you are, marijuana is a good friend to sit down and think about last few days – lsd is a good friend to sit down and think about last few years (life…):-) I do not want to support drug abuse here, but some people are simply not able to maintain an outside point of view themselves…

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