- What happened? We only want facts here, not opinions.
- What worked? Keep this brief and opinion free, if possible.
- What didn't work? Notice the language here. It's neither right nor wrong. It either works or it doesn't. You have to answer both of these questions, because they always co-exist.
- What did you learn? (This is the most important question.) Look for patterns of behavior or results, not a single isolated incident.
- What can you do to correct (if it was a mistake) or leverage it (if it was a win)? You have to answer this question last. Otherwise you may put something into action that could create more problems than you had to begin with.
In business, you are going to make mistakes. If you teach your team to expect them, and even how to laugh at them, you will be giving them a lifelong skill that will make them winners, no matter what. Note: If you can do this with your kids they will grow up to be strategic risk takers and great problem solvers. The key to learning from mistakes is asking the right questions. Debriefing a situation teaches someone how to look at any situation as a learning experience, not as a tragedy. As a leader, it isn't about correcting, advising, lecturing or even consoling. It's about asking good questions. It's about getting people to understand what happened and to take responsibility for learning something as a result of the experience. Here are five important questions that you should use in any debriefing situation: