Discussion Guide For Critical Debriefs

Has misalignment among your direct reports ever frustrated you? Here are six questions to guide an alignment dialogue and help you position your team like fighter jets in formation. Once every two to three months, have a one-on-one with your direct reports, and discuss your answers.

Confirm Direction

1.Where are we going? Here is where I see us going as an organization, but where do you think the organization should be going? 

2. Here is where I see your part of the business going,  but where do you think that you should be going?

Recognize Your Wins

3. Here is what I think you and your part of the business are doing well, but what do you think that you are doing well? 

Collaborate: Fly in the same formation

4. Moving forward, here are some suggestions that might make things even better, but if you were your coach, then what ideas would you have? 

5. How can I help? 

6. What suggestions would you like to share with me?


Perhaps you’ve seen the Blue Angels perform. Flying at 500 mph and in formations so tight that their wings touch, they have no room for any lack of alignment. In fact, after every performance, practice or flight, each member participates in a critical meeting called the debrief. 

Blue Angel debriefs demand complete transparency. During these discussions, members share what they thought were each other’s successes as well as what they believe everyone could improve. They always have a vision of how they can get better, and they are so transparent that they will even share thoughts about what during a flight could potentially have been a problem, i.e., thinking that on turn three that you’ll turn port side vs. starboard. That’s a problem when you’re in an echelon of 24,000-lb. jets only 18 inches apart. 

Create a sense of mutual responsibility, transparency and trust. Tee up these one-on-ones to happen every three months. After a few seasonal feedback loops, your team could be flying as tightly as the Blue Angels.