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Human Factors: Debriefing

The interesting subject of debriefing and how it is approached in aviation

As mentioned in the discussion, a debrief is not an easy task to perform. Most of us don’t like talking about ourselves professionally, and the idea of discussing a colleague’s performance with them face to face can be uncomfortable.

  • What do you feel when asked to do a debrief? When you hear the term “debrief”, what thoughts or emotions come into your head? These reactions can be positive as well as not!
  • Aviation, along with many other team-based professions like healthcare, has realised the value of talking about what happened after the event in a calm, structured and non-judgmental way in order to improve.
  • Debriefing skills training courses are available, but even if you haven’t had the opportunity to attend one it is possible to create your own personal structured techniques for facilitating a debrief.
  • A suggested three-point structure might be:
  1. What went well?
  2. Why did it go well?
  3. What was one thing we could do better next time?
Notice the positive nature of these debriefing questions. If things did not go so well, then starting off positively will relax the team and make honest discussions about learning points more likely
  • There is almost always something of value which can be extracted from a completed scenario, even if it is analysing why it went well. This is a useful technique in response to the answer “I think it went OK”, and can open up the discussion.

Word Cloud!

We invite you to share your thoughts using a word cloud:
  1. Open the word cloud in a new window by right clicking on The Debriefing Word Cloud. Write your answer and submit it, and then just close the window to return to the course.
  2. Now you can view the results!

Questions For Comments

  • How important are cultural elements in debriefing?
  • Is a prescribed structure to a debrief a good thing or is it better for individuals to develop their own?
  • Why do you think the use of open questions and inclusive language is important in debriefs?
  • Is debriefing patient transfers something your organisation sees the benefit of? Do you think debriefing is something the organisation should lead on or is it better being driven by individuals actually doing the job?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and for further reading – including aviation case studies and WingFactors top tips – please click on the SHELL model downloads link (below) before moving on.

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