Is it safe?

A friend of mine recently responded to my having made public our approach to facilitated debriefing by raising the difficulties of how confidentiality is – in the real world – perceived as being almost impossible to achieve.

Our approach (in a nutshell)


Confidentiality if a fundamental human trait – it is given – and in turn, respected.

Is it safe?

My friend’s caution reminded me of several things. First, it gave me pause to think about “is it safe“? A classic question which was at the heart of the movie “Marathon Man” starring Sir Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman, 1976.

I know nothing!

For many, “the real world” isn’t safe – deception abounds and silences inevitably unravel seeing people get “thrown under the bus” – as has been recently illustrated by the enquiry into the inadequate management of the Melbourne Hotel Quarantine. Indeed, a fiasco.

The initial defence as seen in the “political” realm is often that used by a small child – that of feigned ignorance – of “I know nothing!“.

Which after some time has been bought, leads to step two – when the facts and records inevitably come to light, people fall on their swords or are thrown under buses.

Weekend Financial Review 10 Oct 2020

Process integrity

Heuristic devices are important frameworks to prompt reflections and categorise data within management models. When debriefing, it is useful to apply broad models which open up considerations across prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Models which can be used to consider matters before and after the impact of extreme events.

Debriefing processes involve difficult conversations. They cover issues which involve uncertainty, can be notoriously “political”, and are often sensitive. Having processes which can be facilitated to enhance independence and confidentiality is important. This is a function of the methodology and the integrity of the independent facilitator.

We use an open heuristic developed from “Plan, Do, Check, Act”.

Our facilitated debriefs rely on and leverage the three key important life skills outlined in the video clip below by Simon Sinek.

So – who will you trust?

Author: John Salter Consulting Services

John Salter - owner of John Salter Consulting Services - specialising in the facilitation of risk-based capability reviews; needs-based training; business continuity planning; crisis management exercises; and organisational debriefing. Recognised for “preventing disasters, or where that is not possible, reducing the potential for harm” Ref: Barrister H Selby, Inquest Handbook, 1998. Distracted by golf, camping, fishing, reading, red wine, movies and theatre.

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