Debriefing with your Team

Activity for Reflection


A debrief is a check-in with the organizing team that takes place as soon as possible after the co-design session. The goal of a debrief is for team members to come together to:

  • Share and capture any general observations from the session,
  • Reflect on how well the activities, facilitation practice, and logistics worked,
  • Reflect and problem solve on any issues or challenges that may have come up,
  • Decide when, how, and with whom the synthesis will be done.

What a debrief is not:

  • A synthesis session
  • A brainstorming session to come up with solutions

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It’s recommended that everyone working on the project or helping with the session attend the debrief if possible. If you already have people from the community on your working team, include them in the debrief as well. If not, invite community members to join the debrief to help fill in the context and interpret the observations.

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It’s recommended that you do a debrief immediately, or as soon as possible, after the co-design session, since the longer you wait the less you and your team will remember. This may mean that important observations will be lost.

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Share different perspectives

In larger co-design sessions you may have several groups with different facilitators. As a result everyone will have seen and heard different things. It’s important to come together to share observations and to begin to create a shared understanding of the outcomes of the session and to agree upon next steps.

Facilitators may also be coming from different organisations with different perspectives. Community member facilitators will have valuable insights into the co-design process that facilitators from outside of the community will not have.

Iterate on and improve the session

Things don’t always turn out the way you plan them. You may experience unexpected challenges or have surprising and important issues raised during a session. A debrief is the time to share these challenges and issues and to figure out how to address them with the team or in any following sessions.

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There are many ways to do a debrief, from casual to more structured. Most importantly it is recommended that the group takes notes or documents the session in some way.

Points you may wish to address:

  • What were the outcomes of each of the activities?
    • What did you hear?
    • What did you see?
    • What did participants make, do or say?
  • What surprised you, challenged your assumptions, or changed your perspective?
  • How well did the activities work? What were some challenges?
  • What were the barriers to participation?
    • What can we do to remove those barriers?

Potential formats:

  • Casual conversation
  • Structured activity (e.g. quiet reflection time to answer these questions followed by a facilitated sharing time)
  • Chatting on an online platform, with specific questions posed for people to answer when they are able to get to it (but keeping within a reasonable time frame after the session).

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