Ask your question, and invite each person to respond one at a time around the circle.
Video Transcript for Whip Around Debrief presented by Mark Collard
So cast your minds now back over the course of not just today, but yesterday as well. So we’ve had a two-day experience for most of us.
If you’re like most people, you have the freshest memories of the things that you’ve probably just done. But if you can, try and rewind the video of many of the experiences that you’ve had yesterday in the morning and the afternoon, in the evening, and again this morning and the first part after lunch today.
Just take a moment now to refresh your memories of some of those things. There’s no need to say anything. Just go back over in your mind.
(people thinking, quietly)
When one person is ready we’re going to invite a quick whip around the group, with just a word or a phrase. I would like you just to share a word or a phrase that captures a significant memory or a significant learning or a discovery for you that has occurred as a result of this weekend or these two days.
So just a word or a phrase… again, I don’t need anything more than that, but to share in that word or phrase so that everyone else can hear it, and whoever starts will just go clockwise around the group.
If you can think of nothing either because you don’t want to share or you simply had nothing move you these two days, just say “Pass” and that’s okay.
If you have passed I may come back to you and say do you have anything now to share? That’s okay too.
So who would like to start? Capture a word or phrase, just something that really stood out for you these two days.
(I don’t know if it’s really… the entire experience but I’d just say “refreshing”.)
Great. Thank you.
(Just pass me.)
Yeah, that’s fine. Sure.
(I was going to say self-expression like you did and also just… there’s a better word for it, but “opening”.)
For the benefit of time I won’t do the next piece but I would share with you often what happens if I use this technique with young people, but it happens with adults just as much, where they just want to throw out the buzz word. They figured if they just throw that out we’d get to move on.
But then when I go around the second time, I ask them to now integrate that word or phrase into a sentence that helps us understand why you picked that word, and then you can almost hear everyone go “Ugh, now I’m being made accountable”.
So we’re not going to do that on this occasion. I think we can all understand that one.
How To Play Narrative
This is one of my favourite ways to process a group’s experience – it’s quick, simple to understand and allows everyone to speak.
Ask your group to form a circle (often the best way to see and hear each other), and then simply pose your question(s.)
You can either invite a nominated person to respond first (eg the person to your immediate left,) or ask for a volunteer to begin.
The primary aim of this technique is to invite a brief contribution from everyone. Therefore, actively manage the length of time each each person speaks, interrupting those who speak for too long.
Practical Leadership Tips
Take a look at Useful Debriefing Tips to learn about the benefits of processing your group’s experience, and how to run a successful debrief.
This is a very powerful strategy for several reasons. It provides a structure for the conversation, allowing everyone the chance to say something, ie it manages those dominant or loud personalities quite well. It also provides an opportunity for you to briefly catch a glimpse of what everyone is thinking.
Honouring the Challenge by Choice philosophy, allow people to ‘pass’ if they would prefer not to respond, or simply cannot think of anything to say. If appropriate, return to these folk once all others have spoken to check if they now have something to contribute.
Carefully listen to the individual responses, and keep people on track if they begin to stray from the topic. A classic example of this is when you ask people to share something about themselves, yet they quickly start talking about the group or other people.
If there is a chance one or more people could sabotage the conversation, deliberately invite someone whom you think will add value to the topic to start off. This strategy is very useful, because if the conversation gets de-railed early on, it may be hard to pull it back.
Also, watch for those folk who like to jump in, or have a second turn. If and when this happens, simply interrupt the interloper, request that they hold onto that information for later, and return the focus to the person who was speaking.
Accountability Round: Whip around the circle the first time asking for only one word or phrase answers. Then, whip around a second time asking for each person to use the word or phrase they chose in a sentence so that it helps the group understand why they chose it.