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Debrief to Win: Foundations of Accountable Leadership

Last week, my Vistage groups heard from Robert “Cujo” Teschner, a former United States Air Force fighter pilot, on the topic: “Debrief to Win: Foundations of Accountable Leadership.”

Robert was a very dynamic speaker – sharing lessons from his training in the military as well as personal stories that showcase how we can create teams that are held accountable for the end result.

He spoke in depth about the importance of debriefing. In his book, Debrief to Win, he defines debriefing as, “The process of constructively evaluating the quality of the decision everyone on the team made from planning through execution, in relation to the objectives the team set out to achieve.”

In short, we debrief after events to learn more about what we did well and what we can do better. On one slide he wrote:

Debriefs are not about figuring out why we’re failing.

Debriefs are opportunities to validate why we succeeded, so we can replicate our successes.

Debriefs are also opportunities to figure out how close we were to success… so we can achieve it the next time.

Our goal as leaders should be to set up our teams for winning debriefs.

According to Robert, in order to understand how to apply this methodology, we need to appreciate the importance of relating as humans. One of the things he discussed was the challenge with organizations today. Simply because something was good at tactical work, they are often promoted to leadership. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make them a leader.

A question to ask when starting the process of debriefing is: what is our definition of success? The objective must be achievable, measurable and time constrained.

His debriefing formula is called RAPTOR, which looks like this:

Reconstruction

Agree on the Fundamental Question

Present the potential answers

Thoroughly agree on the Root Cause

Organize a Plan for success

Rapidly improve by Memorializing results

I encourage you to check out his book and learn more about the process of debriefing.

And, remember, “If one of us fails, we all fail.”

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