Most large consulting firms pursue some system of engagement debriefs. Their intention is to capture lessons learned from work done for clients in a way that enables others inside their firms to accelerate their climb up learning curves. But too typically the format of these debriefs is so time-consuming and complex that adding to the store of knowledge loses out to the tyranny of billable hours by which partners live and die.

For a large international consultancy Collective Intelligence created short, narrative "after action" reports that defined the experience of serving clients while memories were still fresh—without compromising client confidentiality.

Working in partnership with the firm's leaders to define their intelligence agenda, CI used its research skills to prepare pointed questions for partners soon after they rolled off a client study. That juiced the consultancy's approach to debriefs by putting new insights into circulation at once. And it did so with a minimal investment of partner time.

By packaging insights in short, crisply written accounts—not in stultifying PowerPoint slides—CI assured that these essential lessons of client work were absorbed, talked about and put into practice. Posted on the firm's intranet, these "fast debriefs" were linked to targeted elements of the firm's trove of industry research, maximizing its visibility.

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