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The Importance of Debriefing

Have you ever been on a project team or led a project? If so, you probably spent time planning the project. You crafted SMART goals, identified team members and stakeholders, timelines and milestones, what was in scope and out of scope. Then you executed the project. If you are like me, once you completed the project, we patted ourselves on the back and said “nice job,” then moved on to the next project.

I recently saw Carey Lohrenz speak at the AIHce conference. She wrote a book titled Fearless Leadership about her experience as the first female fighter pilot. She made several key points about leadership, but one in particular resonated with me. The importance of debriefing. Maybe it’s because I seldom took the time to debrief a project or meeting or presentation. How often do we ask ourselves, “what lessons did we learn?” If we are committed to excellence, capturing lessons learned is necessary. Whether it was a successful project or not so successful, we must plan to debrief. If we want to repeat those successful projects, we need to ask “what made it so successful?” If it wasn’t so successful, we need to ask “what would we do differently?” The next time you are on a project team or leading a project team, make debriefing part of your project plan.

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