Is a de-brief the end, or just the beginning?
You’ve previously worked on projects that have lasted months, or longer. Each time you’ve done the right thing and scheduled a de-brief with all key stakeholders during the close out stage. But by the time the end of the project arrives, everyone has forgotten about all those vital key learnings you endured along the way!
How are you going to produce that final masterpiece report to present to the client or management, when many of the key learnings are missing?
The key to informing your recommendations, is to schedule regular de-briefs or facilitated reflection into your project plan at key milestones. This is especially critical if you’re working on something that is new to you, your team or organisation.
So, now you’re ready to incorporate this into your project plan, where do you start?
Communication is key
Make sure your project team is aware of your intention to capture learnings along the way from the very beginning. Include this on the agenda of your initial project meeting and be specific about what it is you want to capture, for example barriers, inefficient processes, time constraints. It’s also helpful to know what is working well.
- At the start of your project it’s always a good idea to set up a centralised folder that everyone can access and save emails and notes along the way. This will ensure that nothing slips through the cracks at your regular de-brief sessions.
- Schedule a weekly calendar invites as a reminder to log items for de-briefing in the centralised folder.
- Treat each milestone as its own mini project
- Create a meeting environment that allows participants to feel supported and respected, by setting guidelines as a team, at the inception meeting
- As the project lead/facilitator it is important to gauge when you should allow a meeting to flow organically to encourage discussion. Discussion = learning.
- Ensure that everyone contributes. You can do this by creating an ‘around the table’ agenda item.
The art of debriefing is integral to sharing key learnings and evaluations with the right people. Encouraging staff to have robust conversations in context and through examples is the best way for people to remember the experiences. The best debriefs conjure up compelling stories that encourage growth and action.
Having processes in place for the seamless delivery of your project is one thing but documenting key learnings through various lenses along the way is vital!
Your future projects will thank you…