Why Your Corporate Team Can’t Afford to Skip Debriefs


Debriefs aren’t just for fighter pilots and battlefield soldiers. Despite the common belief that corporate teams don’t need to debrief, leading academic research shows otherwise.

According to a meta-analysis by Dr. Scott Tannenbaum and Dr. Chris Cerasoli, even rudimentary debriefs can boost team effectiveness by an average of 23%, while structured debriefs can enhance it by 38%. Adding a third-party facilitator can increase effectiveness by an additional 27%.

Debriefing’s Impact on Corporate Performance

So, what can debrief meetings do for your organization? Consider this: only 33% of corporate America’s projects are completed on time, within scope, and on budget, according to Harvard Business Review. Even if your company is above average and completes 60% of its projects successfully, there’s still room for improvement.

Let’s assume your team improves by 5% each time they tackle a project together without debriefing. After three iterations, your team’s success rate would be 64%. Not bad, but imagine the potential if you incorporated structured, third-party-facilitated debriefs. This approach could elevate your team’s effectiveness by 25% after three project iterations, achieving an 85% success rate.

The team that conducts structured, 3rd party-facilitated Debriefs is 25% more effective after three project iterations together and enjoys an 85% success rate by their third Mission. Stop and look at those numbers again – what would that level of improvement mean for your team performance, your organizational culture, or your company in general?

Real-World Success Stories

Our team at Afterburner has seen these statistics play out in real life. For instance, we supported over 50 missions for a tech giant in Silicon Valley using the Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief model, achieving a 91% success rate. This isn’t just theory—it’s a proven strategy that delivers results.

In our two decades of team building consulting, we’ve asked over 3 million people at more than 5,000 client companies to rate their commitment to debriefing. On a scale of 1 to 10, corporate America rates itself around a 3. This suggests that few companies debrief effectively, if at all. The lack of awareness about the impact of debriefing could be a significant barrier.

Take Your Organization to the Next Level

Do you know your team has more potential for success, but can’t seem to get the results you want? We’re here to help! Incorporating structured debriefs into your team’s routine can transform your organizational culture and performance. Contact us today to discover how our debriefing strategies can elevate your team’s effectiveness and drive your company’s success.