Plan, deliver, debrief

How often do we act on failures to achieve improvements? It is beneficial as individuals and companies to celebrate and advertise the wins, but what about the mistakes? Doing something wrong in a task sparks some degree of worry in all of us, and we are often hesitant to put our hands up and admit it as we try to avoid the repercussions. Whether this is management making it difficult for individuals to admit a fault, or each employee not having the courage to do so, it still begs the question; could a company far exceed its competitors and make consistent progress if they took the time to review the errors.

Plan, deliver, debrief. This is a method recently discussed with Jason Fox in our exclusive webinar. We have often seen it in films or heard about this approach, that immediately after a ‘mission’ has been completed, no matter what the time or location, each member of the team is immediately debriefed. While the events are still alive in their minds, they can recall to a greater degree of accuracy what happened, what went well and what could have been improved.

It doesn’t matter if this method is mainly reserved for the army and special forces, it makes sense, right? At the end of the day we are only human, and the longer we leave something, the more distorted our recollection of the event becomes. So, what would happen if we took this approach and integrated it into every form of business life, whether it be a small company or a globally established brand? The quicker mistakes are found and learned from, the less risk there is of long-term damage or irreversible consequences.

For Jason, the feedback was exceptionally important for his career. There is no way you can progress if your mistakes go unresolved. It can instil an unhealthy attitude that professionals can get away with anything and there is no responsibility for their part in a company’s function. This is especially relevant if we look at each stage of seniority in a team. A new employee or ‘lower-level’ professional looking to pass their probation and make a good impression, is less likely to want to admit to any mistakes. But what if management encouraged it? Insisted on an open, transparent attitude that instead of belittling those who did something wrong, it is marvelled that the individual had the courage to hold their hands up and want to learn from their errors. What a shift we would see, not only in productivity but in creating a healthy, honest culture.

Discussing his career and post-operation processes, we at i-Gem were surprised to learn what would happen with the debrief information. Instead of it being the end of the line, any nuggets of knowledge are then passed to the training departments. Mistakes are utilised instead of being used as a way to demoralise individuals for simply being human. “It was always important to teach the next guys coming up through the ranks what mistakes could be possible and create actionable feedback.”

This approach of planning for a task/project, delivering it and debriefing with management on the successes and areas of improvement, could act as a game-changer for many businesses that see mistakes as a failure. It creates an opportunity to fine-tune processes and encourage staff to be transparent with their responsibilities and the part they play in the company.

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