Tip #693:  Why Did It Happen?

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”  Margaret J. Wheatley

In participative learning, it is important that each learning activity be debriefed to give the participants an opportunity to reflect on their experience and reinforce their learning.

It is just as important to have those involved in a critical work situation take time to assess whether the actions taken were effective and, if not, what should be done differently in the future.

I’ve always thought that it made sense to debrief a learning activity or management situation by asking these three questions:

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go well, and why not?
  3. What did you learn?

Recently, I read about an approach that the U.S. Army allegedly uses, called an “After Action Review.” This Review also uses three questions for debriefing purposes, but the first two questions differ significantly from my questions:

  1. What happened?
  2. Why do you think it happened?
  3. And what can we learn from it?

Upon reflection, I prefer these questions over my own for three primary reasons.

First, my first two questions approach a situation from a black or white perspective. They require a judgment call: either things went well, or they didn’t go well.

Second, my questions do not delve into why things might have gone well. They only ask why things did not go well.

Third, my last question focuses in on what the individual learned from the situation, rather than on what anyone who will encounter a similar situation in the future needs to keep in mind.

The After Action Review questions generate a much more complete and rich narrative. The first question does not ask respondents to force aspects of a situation into good or bad boxes. When they respond to “What happened?”, they have to describe the entire situation from a factual and objective standpoint.

“Why do you think it happened?” requires respondents to reflect on the situation as a whole, looking at causal relationships. The question cannot be adequately answered with a subjective response. Instead, it asks for an objective assessment of the situation.

“What can we learn from it?” moves reflection away from the impact on the individual. Instead, it broadens the learning to identify more universal truths that others can apply to similar circumstances.

Needless to say, I plan to use these “After Action Review” questions in my debriefing activities in the future.

Are there other debriefing questions that you have found work well?

May your learning be sweet.

Deborah

Related Posts

Manage Your Holiday Stress Before It Manages You!

Saturday, December 10th from 11 AM to 2:30 PM CST

Over the river to grandmother’s house- we have an idea in our mind about how the holiday should be. But planning, shopping, baking, wrapping gifts, and preparing the house all take a toll. It’s easy to become anxious, worried about creating a perfect, memorable holiday. It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or some other winter holiday. There are traditions to keep, favorite foods to prepare, and decorations to put up. It’s exhausting.

Then there’s the actual day. You will want everyone to feel happy and get along, but you know that the stress of the day can easily result in overexcited and grumpy grandchildren and irritable adult children. You imagine that all the time and effort you put into creating a lovely day could end up being wasted and unappreciated.

Holidays are supposed to be a joyful time. Let us help you get clear about what is not worth worrying about- and give you practical coping strategies that will help you stay calm when things don’t go the way you want them to go.

Join us for this highly interactive half-day virtual workshop on how to Manage Your Holiday Stress Before It Manages You on Saturday, December 10th from 11 AM to 2:30 PM CST. Your investment is $120. We guarantee that you will have a much less stressful holiday.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to Deal with Difficult People.

In this course you will define the behavioral characteristics and underlying needs of difficult people, assess situations in which you effectively handled a difficult person, review five steps for handling difficult people Laurel & Associates now offers courses through Teachable. Learn at your own pace.
Popular Post

Share This Post