Debriefing is a team-based review of a shared experience. By examining what happened, teams learn from the experience and gain valuable information to help them achieve superior outcomes in the future.
Debriefing is a quick snapshot of what went well and what didn't go well. The results of a debrief could be used later as part of a problem-solving process.
Effective debriefs are crisp and to the point. It's important that everyone gets a chance to speak. Sometimes it's helpful if the more junior or quiet folks go first; otherwise, they may be overshadowed by the "veterans." As a participant, avoid being judgmental—debriefs need to be positive learning experiences for everyone or people will shut down.
Your team might try doing a debrief:
- To evaluate meetings.
- At the end of the shift.
- During simulation training.
- After an infrequent, high-risk procedures.
- After a close call.
Steps for a Successful Debrief
Following these steps will help ensure your team has a productive debriefing session.
Know why you are meeting
Team leaders should get the team's attention before starting, set a positive tone and restate the purpose of the debrief.
Focus on systems and team work issues
Discuss two simple, yet specific, questions:
- "What went well?"
- "What would we like to do differently next time?"
Brainstorm – don't discuss
If the debrief turns into a discussion, any team member can jump in and redirect it back to brainstorming. Discussing each other's answers slows down the process and changes the purpose of the debriefing from tracking current results to problem solving for next time.
Document the answers
Documenting the information ensures that something can be done with the results!
For an easy-to-print version of the information on this page, download the Debriefing tool.