?Debriefing, A tool for Punishment or a Tool for Improvement

Do we need debriefing?

In order to answer that question, one has to agree on five fundamental principals:

  • Every organization is measured and valued by its outcomes.
  • In our time, our surrounding is characterized by a fast changing pace in all fields of knowledge. An organization, as are the people in it, that will not improve its performance, production and ingenuity constantly, will see itself left behind the global advancement pace up to the point of becoming entirely irrelevant in its specified field of expertise.
  • In today's rapid pace of change and transformations lack of progress will result in regression.
  • In order to improve one has to aspire for excellence at all times. Therefore, the working premise and the organization's culture, which all employees should identify with and work by is to seek personal and collective superiority.
  • In order to strive for excellence unremittingly, one has to develop a creative methodical learning scheme.
  • Debriefing is a major instrument in changing thinking patterns, adopting a refreshing new organizational culture and generating continual learning processes while aspiring for personal and collective excellence.

In edition with the aforementioned, there are two additional neighboring tools:

  1. The dexterity of identifying outdated and archaic paradigms and replacing them with newer and more relevant ones.
  2. Developing new patterns and skills in various evaluating processes combined with personal and collective decision making.

When examining the whereabouts of debriefing, the immediate association which comes to mind is the military environment. The next association is the punitive consequences which processing and cultivating of past occurrences carry out. Therefore the instantaneous association with a punitive outcome intensifies the emotional rejection of entering into the process of debriefing.

It seems that there is no escaping from the five aforementioned principals. With the appropriate emphasis these five principals should boost every organization which decides to adopt them.

The crucial dilemma is how to adopt the culture of debriefing and interlacing it into the already existing work patterns without propagating antagonism and hostility, thus insuring that debriefing will not become an off-putting and destructive tool but a tool of improvement and change.

Consequently I suggest the following definition:

"Debriefing is the process of accumulating all relevant data and facts, recognizing faults and accomplishments, drawing conclusions and lessons in order to incessantly improve the level of performance, quality and skills singularly and collectively".

The exercising of debriefing will result in adapting two new strategic selections within the organization, affecting it and its members instantly, but mainly has a lasting long term affect:

  1. The organization has decided to become a learning group.
  2. The organization now works to achieve specific goals, thus creating an ongoing process of striving for singular and collective excellence.

The organization and its members must recognize that the adoption of this new tool brings a profound change in the working culture which one has to be prepared for. Taking on and carrying out new mannerisms and conduct that are influenced by a wide range of axioms, some which I'll mention here:

  • Mistakes are permissible.
  • Mutual support.
  • Mutual responsibility.
  • Mutual respect.
  • Honesty and integrity.
  • Continuous strive for personal learning.
  • Continuous strive for personal excellence.
  • The singular \ collective debriefing is divided into four components:
  • 1. Accumulation of data and facts.
  • 2. Identifying and defining gaps.
  • 3. Conclusion drawing.
  • 4. Defining lessons.It is important to acknowledge that alongside collective debriefing there is the process of personal debriefing. This delicate process requires complete trust amongst all the members of the organization who are to be fully committed to the method. The merging of these two techniques will bring the organization to new and outstanding achievements.

    In conclusion, adopting the debriefing culture by the organization and its members could be perceived as frightening and as an aggressive choice.

The personal and collective opportunity and breakthrough which this new culture brings, will enable an endless strive for excellence, while preserving the organization's dynamics and evolution. Furthermore, it will accord the organization to the always changing environment and help it to stay one step ahead of its competitors.

by Assaf Sapir

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