How to Debrief to Learn and Make Progress

debriefDo you take the time to debrief regularly? If we do then we can not only learn from situations in our lives but we can make more progress toward our goals.

To debrief means to take the time to think about a situation and ask yourself what happened, what went well, and what could have been done better.

Debriefing is important in business as well as in our personal lives. It helps us become the best we can be, not only for ourselves but for those around us – whether family, friends, co-workers or customers.

People that achieve their goals reach them in part because they take the time to thoughtfully consider and reflect on important situations. Here is a process that can be used to debrief from any situation.

These steps can be used to debrief from an interaction with another person, a meeting with a group of people, determine how a process worked, such as a planning process to reach your goals, or any number of other situations.


Describe the Situation

Write down the details of the circumstances from which you want to learn. These would be the facts such as who, what, when, where, why and how of the circumstances.

Doing the debriefing in writing is important as writing it down causes greater reflection.

Define What Went Well

Compose all the items that worked in the situation. This will help us get clear on what we did well so we can repeat the process, and also help us feel good as we gain confidence in our debriefing skills.

Explain What Could Have Been Better

After considering the situation, write down all the parts you wish you had done differently. This could be what was said, how you reacted, the process you used, even the location of where the situation happened.

When we do this, we learn how to execute better the next time a similar situation arises.

Visualize the Next Time

Take the time to visualize each step of your next debrief by using your answers from steps two and three, as to what went well and how it could have been better.

Visualization is important to engrain the improvements into our minds. Attach the emotion you will feel when you execute the situation in the future such as excitement, sense of accomplishment, joy, etc.

The emotion will have our remembrance the next time the circumstances arise.

Debriefing is a critical skill to learn if we want to make progress in the direction of our goals. It helps us to make more progress more quickly so we do not continue to repeat our past mistakes.

How has debriefing worked for you? What process has worked for you?