Why and How You Should Debrief Every Project

In the Dirt World, the debrief can be a powerful tool — but only if you’re using it correctly.

A solid debriefing lets you take a good, hard look at the results you’ve achieved and ways you can improve on those results in the future. But are you leveraging your debriefings, so they provide you with the information you and your team need to grow?

In this lesson, Willink offered advice on how and why you should debrief every project you take on.

How to debrief effectively

Doing a debrief to capture the information you need to improve your performance is important. But first, what exactly is debriefing?

According to the Harvard Business Review, a debriefing is an analysis that takes a deep dive into the results you’ve achieved on a project. When you debrief, you’re looking at the objectives you hoped to meet, whether or not you met those objectives, and the root causes driving the results you ultimately achieved.1

Doing this post-project analysis helps you understand why you got the results you did — and what you should or shouldn’t do in future projects to improve your performance.

So what’s the best way to do a debriefing? “When we debrief, we take a step back from our project or task, and we assess what we could have done better,” Willink explained. “What could we have done differently? What did we learn? What did we do well?”

Asking these critical questions helps you uncover invaluable insights for fine-tuning your performance, whether for an ongoing project or one you will tackle in the future.

The power of the daily debrief

A debrief is a powerful tool, especially in the Dirt World. But how often should you be doing a debriefing?

It might surprise you, but doing a quick daily debriefing gives your debriefs even more power.

“Am I saying, take 45 minutes to do a debrief every day?” Willink said. “No, I’m not saying that at all. But to take five minutes to ask, hey, how did we do today? That’s valuable. Debrief one thing each day, one part of the project. You did a pour? How did the pour go? How did we do? What did we learn? That’s a powerful tool.”

And while debriefings require time, the return you get on your investment is crucial for your future growth. “Maybe you spend 10 minutes debriefing how something went,” Willink noted. “Maybe 15 minutes. Maybe a bit longer if it’s a big project and you’re doing a final debrief. But your ROI? You’re going to capture the lessons learned and disseminate this information to your troops. You’re going to win all day with this.”


Doing a debriefing will provide you with the invaluable information you need to improve your future performance. With a proper debrief, you’re better able to see the things you’re doing that work — and the things you should reconsider doing because they didn’t work.

One way to leverage the power of the debrief is by doing smaller, daily debriefings. Try debriefing one aspect of a project daily to uncover insights that can help you finetune your results on your current and future projects.

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