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👩‍💻Team debriefing vs. Team introspection

👩‍💻Team debriefing vs. Team introspection
Photo by Mario Gogh / Unsplash

I have been wanting for a long time to share about various team practices that I have found useful over the years working with different teams, from startup co-founders to senior corporate managers of large industrial companies. And my views have also evolved over the years, moving from very masculine goal-oriented performance-driven practices (which I still find useful by the way) to more feminine inclusive, growth-mindset, sustainable future driven practices.

In the next few articles I will endeavour to share practical perspectives so you can start implementing in your teams and upgrade / balance your culture.

Today here is a short piece about the subtle yet critical differences between what you might be used to – the team debriefing – and another practice which is usually more a solitary activity – introspection.

Team Debriefing

There are a number of  "masculine" practices such as debriefing which are very efficient in context where the goal is easy to determine, and the performance easy to measure. I had learned about this 10 minute process usually practiced in the military from a training colleague former RAF pilot and international rubgy player Rory Underwood. It is very powerful for corporate teams to include debriefing in their daily practices when dealing with performance and learning from every experience whether they delivered or not.

Yet I have found that in many situations, this straight-to-the-point process does not address deeper underlying issues. Especially in more complex contexts, emotions tend to run high, whether expressed or not, and the human aspects - especially the relational part - are critical and not specifically linked to an objective or on-going measurable performance.

Team Introspection

Hence a more "feminine" practice of team introspection might be more useful in  situations such as re-organisations, conflicts, challenging negotiations, innovative units and multi-cultural teams. I will probably delve deeper into this topic in later articles, but to summarize, team introspection is the practice of:

  • Welcoming what is, in a non-judgemental way;
  • Questioning to dive deeper on subjects such as "how can we trust each other more?" or "how can we support each other?" or "how healthy are our relationships?";
  • Listening to all members of the team in their diverse perspectives;  
  • Acknowledging emotions and needs;
  • Taking the time, taking a breath.

So that we can connect to our collective purpose and values, feel supported and engage as we are to the best of our potential. And no it doesn't take that much time! It is about creating the "right" conditions and it is about shifting our teams' (and organisations') culture.

A good team debrief asks questions and gets learning to enhance performance, whereas team introspection asks questions to deepen understanding and find sustainable solutions to complex issues in teams.