Recently friend and Mentor Chris Butler recommended I check out The Human Diver blog by Gareth Lock. Reading Lock’s post on The Importance of Psychological Safety in Debriefs led me to click on the link to a document on the DEBrIEF model: How to improve learning after diving. Below are some excerpts from that document that would be very helpful to conducting debriefings in law enforcement, both in training and in the field.
“A debrief is a simplified investigation and is an essential tool to understand what didn’t work, why and how to improve. What is often forgotten though, and equally as important, is the need to understand what did work and why so that it can be repeated.”
“The purpose of an investigation is to understand how things usually go right as a basis for explaining how things occasionally go wrong.”
“….we often focus on blaming individuals for not following their training or doing something ‘stupid’ as opposed to understanding why it made sense for them to do what they did.”
“Fundamentally a debrief is about learning, not blaming. To learn, we need to understand the stories which were relevant and important to those involved. That relevance is shaped by experience, goals and objectives and the social environment in which we reside. However, to allow those stories to be told honestly and with candour, we need to have a psychologically safe environment where it is okay (or even encouraged) to tell the instructor, expedition leader or just a friend, the bad news and how to potentially fix it. Without such an environment, systemic issues will not be resolved.”
One of the follow-up questions he suggests asking is: “What was the greatest risk we took and got away with?” He goes on to explain, “this will inform and calibrate the risk taking within the team. If it didn’t end up in a failure, why didn’t it. What measures were put in place to prevent it, or was it luck?”
Take time to reflect on this information, check out the blog post and the debriefing document, and ask yourself whether you have a culture of learning, or a culture of blaming. If it is the latter, take steps to change the culture to one of learning.
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