Team Accountability – Workshop 8 (Debrief Part 1)
The Appleton Greene Corporate Training Program (CTP) for Team Accountability is provided by Mr. Teschner MBA BA Certified Learning Provider (CLP). Program Specifications: Monthly cost USD$2,500.00; Monthly Workshops 6 hours; Monthly Support 4 hours; Program Duration 12 months; Program orders subject to ongoing availability.
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Learning Provider Profile
Mr. Teschner is a transformational Leadership Coach and Trainer and Founder & CEO of VMax Group. VMax Group is a St Louis-based Leadership Development company specializing in teaching accountable leadership and high-performing teamwork to businesses across the globe. VMax Group has centered much of its signature training around the proper practice of Accountability. Real Accountability—positive, forward-focused Accountability centered around the process of taking Absolute Ownership for the outcomes the team achieves—is something Mr. Teschner and his team lived during their collective time as member of high-performance military teams. Now they’ve made it their mission to teach what they know to those who need to learn it.
A decorated graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Air University, and the National War College, Mr. Teschner is also both a Distinguished Graduate and former F-15 Instructor at the USAF Weapons School – the Air Force version of “TOP GUN”. It was there that he honed his craft of teaching accountable leadership to the top practitioners in the world. Additionally, Mr. Teschner was privileged to command an operational F-22 “Raptor” squadron, flying America’s most advanced air supremacy platform. Mr. Teschner was ultimately honored to be promoted to the rank of full Colonel but retired early as a result of a battle with colon-rectal cancer. Mr. Teschner has over 20 years of hands-on leadership experience in High-Performance, High-Reliability Organizations and brings all of that experience with him wherever he speaks, teaches or coaches.
Mr. Teschner has a special way of connecting with his audiences, blending high-impact stories of fighter aviation and personal humility to achieve the intended outcome. In addition, his story of his personal fight with cancer serves as the launch pad for talks about humility, growth, motivation, and constant improvement. Mr. Teschner is the author of the #1 bestselling book, Debrief to Win: How High-Performing Leaders Practice Accountable Leadership, and released his newest bestselling book Aiming Higher: A Journey Through Military Aviation Leadership, a book co-authored with 4 other former Air Force pilots, in May of 2022. His next book, Building Resilience, is due out in the Spring of 2023.
This is the part of our course where we’ll dig into the methodology of the debrief, with an emphasis on theory. Outcome: the team understands the theory of the debrief form of team accountability. Desired Learning Objectives: We understand the tenets of the “RAPTOR” Debrief
We understand how the tenets support positive, forward accountability.
01. Mission Focus: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
02. Mindset & Attitude : departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
03. The Approach: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
04. Mission Clarity: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
05. RAPTOR Debrief Part 1: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
06. RAPTOR Debrief Part 2: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
07. Driving Factors: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. 1 Month
08. Tough Topics: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
09. Way Forward: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
10. Memorialize Results: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
11. Absence of Blame: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
12. Dissemination: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
01. Mission Focus: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
02. Mindset & Attitude : Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
03. The Approach: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
04. Mission Clarity: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
05. RAPTOR Debrief Part 1: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
06. RAPTOR Debrief Part 2: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
07. Driving Factors: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
08. Tough Topics: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
09. Way Forward: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
10. Memorialize Results: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
11. Absence of Blame: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
12. Dissemination: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
01. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Mission Focus.
02. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Mindset & Attitude .
03. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze The Approach.
04. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Mission Clarity.
05. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze RAPTOR Debrief Part 1.
06. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze RAPTOR Debrief Part 2.
07. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Driving Factors.
08. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Tough Topics.
09. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Way Forward.
10. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Memorialize Results.
11. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Absence of Blame.
12. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Dissemination.
The RAPTOR Debrief methodology’s ability to be both straightforward and reproducible is what makes it so important and effective. Every debrief should follow the same format. It’s also important to remember that every team member, from senior leaders and managers to technicians and lower-level employees, may practice each component. It’s important to note that the RAPTOR Debrief is a life skill that can be used in ALL areas of human endeavor, not only as a tool for high-performing teams to hold themselves accountable. You should be aware that the six actions we’ll list here are intended to:
1. Easy to grasp,
2. Simple to use, and
3. Extremely effective when used properly.
We are now moving on to a description of how to carry out the precise phases of the debrief, steps that build on what we have previously discussed. Consider yourself a student in a business training school while you read this workshop. Be prepared to ponder certain sections and draw connections between the elements to see how you might apply them to your advantage. Note the passages that either don’t make sense at the moment or that make you realize how you can use them to satisfy your needs. Make notes, then think about them. Return to them. Don’t let them languish in an unopened notebook.
First, Analyze What Happened
As mentioned in previous workshops, those of us who work in aviation use technology that allows us to accurately reconstruct what happened while we were in the air. The goal is to make certain that we have exact “truth data” to draw lessons from. Whether we are aware of it or not, business requires many of the same skills. Every company to which I have offered consulting services can obtain extremely precise data on sales performance and other important metrics. Since the numbers themselves are only one aspect of what needs to be captured during the “Reconstruction” phase, metrics are a great way to capture one part of the “truth data” we seek.
Even more crucial is that we accurately record ALL of the significant incidents, occurrences, data, etc. that impacted our success. It’s crucial that we combine the many points of view on how things appeared from those of the different team members. I’ll use the chapter four dogfighting scenario to clarify what I mean and how we would use this strategy in a fighter debrief.
Case Study: The Tactical Debrief
Using the example of a Flight Lead in a “dogfight” exercise, we’ll assume that the administrative portion of the debrief is finished and we have transitioned to the tactical part of the mission, “the meat” of the mission. The first thing he needs to do is to ensure both pilots agree on what actually happened. He’ll do this by reconstructing the path each fighter flew. He’ll place special emphasis on times when the Offensive Fighter employed weapons, as well as those times where the two might have had a close pass, and where one was able to gain an advantage over the other. The challenge with manually reconstructing the flight paths of high-performance fighters is that what actually transpired in the air did so in three dimensions. The simplest forms of reconstruction— chalk boards, white boards, butcher boards—only allow for a two-dimensional reconstruction. That said, we always train to manually draw up our engagements because we thereby learn how to ask critical questions of our teammates.
To assist in our manual reconstruction, the Flight Lead will initially reconstruct the fight from what we call the “God’seye” perspective: as you might imagine, looking straight down from the heavens. The other perspective we use is the “Grandstand” perspective, where the fight is viewed as if from the bleachers or grandstand at a sports event.
The main purpose in using this example is to demonstrate how the Flight Lead frequently collects, represents, and confirms data with his Wingman during the Reconstruction phase. The Flight Lead (FL) is focused on collecting precise data because it will lead to more accurate reconstruction. The only way to ensure correctness is to make several, focused inquiries. There is no question as to who is in charge throughout the fighter debrief’s reconstruction phase or who is supplying the raw data used to cross-check everything. No one can deny, however, that the Wingman (WG) has crucial information to share—a perspective on the incident that must be recorded if the reconstruction is to be correct.
Reconstructing in a Business Setting
Fear not when it comes to retracing events that happened on the ground and may have occurred over a number of days, weeks, or even years. The same fundamental approach works.
Both a “tape review” in which each participant records their own opinions on significant occurrences and a reconstruction phase in which those same significant events are recorded on a board are equally feasible. Since we don’t have tapes in the business world, we must rely on our memories, emails, texts, notes, data spreadsheets, and other means of information storage to piece together what actually happened. The secret to success in this situation is to be both concise and clear.
A Visual Capture of the Truth of What Happened
What’s particularly helpful is that, if we’re thinking critically, the problems we want to solve—and the solutions to these problems—jump straight out when we have the truth in print in front of us. Not that the solutions are always directly written on the board—they aren’t always. But if we’re telling the truth and, as leaders, constantly ask ourselves, “Did I set my team up for success?” we’ll be able to figure out what we need to know to succeed.
I applied this strategy a few months ago when I was working with a customer. In this specific instance, we were recapping a unique event we put on that had components from across the organization (marketing and sales, operations, finance, etc.), as well as the introduction of a brand-new non-profit organization to the public. As part of our debrief, I particularly recorded the happenings over the period of three weeks on a single sheet of flip chart paper. I broke down our reconstruction into manageable weekly portions and further divided it into parts that made sense to our crew. The “Management Team,” “Events,” “Sales,” and another sub-group were among these components. Additionally, I created a category called “Pressure Points” to include places where we encountered challenges. Here is how this particular reconstruction turned out in the end:
It’s noteworthy that every line was written with unanimous team approval. Apart from what I had written down in my own, private notes, nothing was pre-written. I asked the entire team for feedback, viewpoints, and observations, talking through each idea before putting it on writing. In other words, I recreated this in the same manner as the prior “dogfighting” lines.
Again, any currently used data capture technique that is available in any industry can help with the “tape review” process. Health care providers have data from their systems to determine how long it took, for example, from the time a prescription order was placed to when the patient received medicine. Sales teams keep track of contact information, engagements made and kept, conversions, and other information. Athletic coaches frequently have access to video recordings of what happened on the field or court. There are innumerable examples and a ton of data sources. Indeed, there is a way to record what actually happened in almost every endeavor.
In the end, it is definitely worth the effort to describe what truly occurred using concise sentences. One benefit of the method is that it highlights information that the leader might not have known otherwise and fills in knowledge gaps for him.82 The main goal of the reconstruction phase is to write this information down so that everyone in the room may see it, evaluate it, analyze it, challenge it, and perhaps even add to it or utilize it in other ways. It’s crucial that only one individual, namely the Leader, writes all that needs to be written. He or she is in the greatest position to provide lengthy summaries, to combine several statements that essentially express the same thing, to decide which topics should be included and which ones the team can discuss separately or later, and so forth. The leader should plan ahead for this fact-finding process, thinking about everything from how to record and summarize the facts to how he plans to use the available space (a flip chart can only hold so much information) to portray the history of events, at the very least the night before.
Yes, it can be simple to get distracted during the reconstruction process or to want to jump right to the performance review and root cause analysis. Leaders must be prepared to tell a team that wants to push forward to “Hang-on… we’re not there yet!” For a team to succeed, leaders must be prepared to assume control, maintain accuracy as the primary goal, and hold team members accountable for adhering to the Team Charter’s principles.
Let’s talk about time expectations for a moment. How much time we spend on the Reconstruction phase will depend on the urgency and “seriousness” of the problems we need to solve. The debrief’s context will be extremely important in determining our timing. In a professional situation, we will probably spend the majority of our time—roughly half of the total time for our debrief—during the reconstruction phase, particularly in the early stages of the switch to a debrief-focused flow. Once the organization adopts time-saving strategies and the team becomes accustomed to the process, this process will eventually move more quickly. Just keep in mind that one of the key components of successful debriefs is taking the time to effectively reconstruct; do not rush or short-change this process. You’ll be astonished by what you discover.
Agree on the Fundamental Question(s) & Focus Points
We take the information we gathered during the reconstruction phase and decide which details need more investigation during the RAPTOR debrief. We do this with the understanding that our time together is limited and precious. As a result, we begin by evaluating how our results compare to the goals we set. The RAPTOR Debrief, to put it another way, focuses on whether or not we succeeded in achieving our goals. The goal is to identify any gaps or deltas, both good and poor. If we didn’t reach our objectives, our analysis begins there; if we did, we need to determine if it was due to something we did well or lucky circumstances. In either case, the context of the debrief will dictate what more we need to evaluate once our Objectives guide our initial emphasis. The RAPTOR Debrief is relatively simple to carry out because the core procedure is so logical and well thought out. Unfortunately, not everyone who engages in debriefing does so in this manner. To further comprehend the advantages of the RAPTOR methodology, let’s briefly examine a rival strategy.
The Effective Debrief Centers on Objectives
The lesson here is that the debrief should be driven by our goals. The goals should be our main emphasis if they truly matter (which they should). Next up are the coaching techniques we must use to enhance team performance, which may or may not be inherent in our goals. It should be quite simple to determine whether or not we have reached attainable, measurable objectives that are specified throughout time. Simply put, we ponder “why” or “why not?” Developing the “Fundamental Question(s)” or FQ is the official term we’ll use for this. We’ll refer to any additional issues we wish to go through as “Focus Points” or FPs, depending on the context of our debrief. Fundamental Questions are posed in the form of queries. Any format that makes the most sense is used to identify focus points; for example, if I were on a dogfighting mission, I would circle these points on the board.
While a leader’s debriefing strategy is guided by the objectives, the context dictates whether additional learning is required to boost team and individual performance. This additional knowledge may go beyond what is discussed while responding to the Fundamental Question, but there is a very solid reason for it. If we hadn’t answered today’s Focus Point, it’s possible that tomorrow’s Fundamental Question would have been it. Think about the treacherous pass that I mentioned in the “Pre-Brief.” If we hadn’t quickly debriefed, we might have collided during a subsequent engagement. How much time we decide to devote to addressing a Focus Point as opposed to a Fundamental Question (typically, but not always, less time) is an important factor, the same fundamental worry mentioned before. I have discovered the following through subsequent mission debriefs during the course of my career:
The dashed line in this graph serves to illustrate how ALL of the issues we’re attempting to address lose importance when we treat each issue equally, that is, when we devote the same amount of time to each issue we emphasize. On the other hand, each issue shines out as it should when we handle each one at the “appropriate” level (shown by the dots). Teams notice the difference, and those watching the debrief take place (the participants more so than the leader) will undoubtedly enjoy this strategy. In the same way, they won’t tolerate it at all when every problem is treated as if it had equal importance.
We efficiently get to the purpose of the debrief by laying out the objectives first, then assessing our performance in regard to them. This procedure requires some getting used to, like everything else, but the debrief leader can speed learning by ensuring from the outset that the team as a whole acknowledges that the right question has been identified. Furthermore, we are unable to identify any Focus Points because we don’t yet know anything else about this scenario.
Returning to the issue of perspective, it is often the case that individuals who are not in charge of the debrief have a better understanding of what the FQ should be, partly because they experience less pressure and have more time to reflect. The conversation’s facilitator should take this into account, assess the feedback from a different viewpoint, and decide whether to include that viewpoint in the debate. Where the debrief goes in a RAPTOR Debrief is ultimately up to the leader. He makes a decision after considering the suggestions of his team. As an Accountable Leader, he must make judgment calls, and this is just one of many that will be made during the debrief. Despite the difficulty, this ends up being one of the numerous advantages of this crucial strategy: Leaders have the chance and are actually called to lead.
Chapter 1: Mission Focus
Any project should include a debriefing session because, strangely enough, we learn more from an experience or project after it has concluded than we do while it is being carried out. And yet, we frequently complete a task and move on without getting together to talk about and consider how things went.
However, there is value in doing that, and it also requires skill. The good and the terrible should not be glossed over; instead, you should determine what worked and what didn’t. You also want to be able to take something away from it.
Consider how a sports coach creates their plans. The coach can only determine what works and what doesn’t for the squad after watching them play, and then make adjustments for the following game.
When you debrief, you are acting in the same capacity as a manager and coach (albeit one that is not athletic).
Asking a few strong questions after a project that put more of an emphasis on community building and learning than on gauging success is your best bet. Instead of seeing it as an opportunity to point fingers, think of it as a method to learn what worked and what didn’t.
1. What did we hope to accomplish?
2. What took place?
3. What are the takeaways?
4. What should we change for the upcoming situation?
5. What happens next?
Aligning Your Workforce
Ever attend a marching band performance? The band turns to face the drum major, who is waving a baton at the top. This aids the band in determining how to move in order to set up the proper formation on the field.
Your firm is led by its mission, vision, and values. Employees can march in unison and arrange themselves as you wanted as long as they can see the baton.
Some employees will work toward one goal while others will be working toward a different goal if a company doesn’t connect itself with its objective. For instance, the goal and vision may be focused on a separate, current product while the manufacturing team purchases a brand-new, expensive machine for a new product. This kind of misalignment can cost your business money because it reduces both employee productivity and the real cost of the error.
You are the baton’s keeper, senior leaders. They must be responsible for ensuring that every day, employees’ work supports the goal and vision. The accounting team’s portion will differ from the service team’s portion as it trickles down. However, in order for each team to make the right choices, they must understand what their share is and why it is significant.
The Progression Of A Team
The stages that teams often go through, from formation to dissolution, are covered in this section. It should be noted that the stages are not always easily discernible. This is probably the case if a team runs for a short period of time or if its membership changes. There might not be much “storming” in the first scenario, but there might be a lot in the second.
Managing a team entails seeing it through all of the highs and lows of the team process. Understanding the various’stages’ of team development can help one determine what the team needs and how to support it most effectively. The most well-known explanation of the stages of team growth was provided in 1977 by Tuckman and Jensen. As follows:
Chapter 2: Mindset & Attitude
The constant learning attitude, which helps us to prioritize learning, personal growth, and development rather than judging success on short-term outcomes and restricted criteria, then further fuels and sustains a deeper sense of purpose. We run the risk of ignoring long-term aspects, such as culture, values, and wellness in order to attain short-term goals, such as meeting annual sales targets or winning Olympic gold. When that occurs, those goals lose their significance, and motivation levels immediately decrease. Simple measurements do not motivate employees to go above and beyond, to collaborate as a team, or to successfully adjust to changes in their environment. When learning and purpose are lacking, creativity, invention, and resilience are lost.
Learning takes place outside of classes and isn’t just something that’s discussed at retreats. Both must be a part of a daily mindset that views every interaction as an opportunity to learn and find meaning that we can carry with us.
It is challenging to establish clarity around our purpose if we don’t connect as a team. It’s challenging to continue learning, foresee growing demands, and get ready for an unpredictable future if we don’t interact with our clients and coworkers.
Relationships were crucial throughout my professions as a British diplomat and an Olympic rower. No Olympic crew would dare attempt to prepare and compete against the rest of the world without forging strong interpersonal relationships. This was effective not just at the level of sharing the common objective of moving quickly and winning, but also at the level of comprehending deeper motivations and drivers and paying attention to other points of view, all of which were crucial for maximizing group performance. In the field of diplomacy, the entire basis of negotiation is based on relationships and understanding the perspectives of others in order to foster cooperation and collaboration that may lead to innovative solutions to some of the most significant global crises of our time.
We provide a simple—yet non-formulaic—alternative to the destructive winning mentality. It’s time to rethink what success means and to begin pursuing goals that go beyond simply placing first. More riches are up for grabs than just the upcoming round of annual bonuses; there is a wider game to play.
Developing a Business Winning Mindset: How to Handle Failure
Although it can be rewarding, owning your own business also has its share of difficulties. Being able to deal with failure is a crucial component of running a business because not everything will go as planned every time. Failure may be disappointing and demotivating, whether it was a marketing strategy that didn’t succeed, a product that didn’t sell, or a monetary loss.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that failure does not spell the end for your company. It’s an opportunity to grow, learn, and get better.
Chapter 3: The Approach
Bringing the Post-Mortem Business Meeting to Life with Retrospective Meetings
You’ve succeeded! You are prepared to celebrate after finishing a huge project with your team. Your team performed a fantastic job of responding to the difficulties and finishing the assignment. The team put in a lot of effort to finish everything, and they were successful. Everyone should be proud of themselves because it was a great accomplishment. How will you continue to work on this project? You take what you can from it and establish a continual improvement cycle. Even unsuccessful projects can teach you something. So, on your subsequent project, you’ll perform even better! Retrospective meetings are the best method to learn from a failed project. In a retrospective meeting, you discuss what occurred and its causes. You can also talk about what could have been done differently to prevent reoccurring issues.
An evaluation meeting should be held after each project. Retrospective meetings known as “postmortems” (PM) allow teams to analyze their accomplishments and shortcomings. Teams can review their experiences at these sessions and learn important lessons about what worked and what didn’t. PMs are useful for seeing concerns before they balloon into bigger difficulties. The team benefits from this and improves as a result. If a project goes well, set up a meeting to review it and determine whether any lessons were learned. If you have a problematic project, arrange a meeting to discuss what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future. In order for them to be heard, this should comprise at least one team member from each team and possibly two from an