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Reflect, Don't Dwell

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 02-12-10

3368336791_b64e855264.jpgMost organizations don’t spend time in reflection. It seems wasteful. But it’s vitally important in an organization trying to make progress. Without learning, courses aren’t corrected and lessons aren’t internalized.

A favorite quote of mine by Soren Kierkegaard speaks to this point:

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

This means to me that we must spend time understanding what has happened and most importantly, why. Understanding is the goal. But live forward. Remember that reflection has one and only one purpose – to help you improve your actions and decisions in the future.

Reflection is not about ranting and raving, whining and blame, or anything that doesn’t help you improve your own actions.

Consider when you reflect as well. The faster you are moving forward, the more frequently you must stop to reflect and learn. If you are in a jet moving 500 MPH and only stop to check your bearings every few hours, you could end up well off course.

Reflection is a key to unlocking mysteries of cause and effect, of what works and what doesn’t. Just make sure you are doing it for the purpose of future action.

Comments

  • I want to share with you the impact that your writings have on people like me. In one hour from now I will be in front of 12 supervisors including the owner of the company. I will be training them on how to use an A3 report form and a One Page Project Manager form. We are starting eight lean / true north / company alignment projects this week. And we want this group to use these forms.

    With this little piece you just wrote you have answered a question that I know they will have. That is, why do we have to create all of this paperwork for these 8 projects.

    Thank you so much for your insight.

    Jim Fernandez February 12, 2010 at 11:21 am
  • I want to share with you the impact that your writings have on people like me. In one hour from now I will be in front of 12 supervisors including the owner of the company. I will be training them on how to use an A3 report form and a One Page Project Manager form. We are starting eight lean / true north / company alignment projects this week. And we want this group to use these forms.

    With this little piece you just wrote you have answered a question that I know they will have. That is, why do we have to create all of this paperwork for these 8 projects.

    Thank you so much for your insight.

    Jim Fernandez February 12, 2010 at 11:21 am
  • I want to share with you the impact that your writings have on people like me. In one hour from now I will be in front of 12 supervisors including the owner of the company. I will be training them on how to use an A3 report form and a One Page Project Manager form. We are starting eight lean / true north / company alignment projects this week. And we want this group to use these forms.

    With this little piece you just wrote you have answered a question that I know they will have. That is, why do we have to create all of this paperwork for these 8 projects.

    Thank you so much for your insight.

    Jim Fernandez February 12, 2010 at 11:21 am
  • Hi Jamie,

    Socrates’ “[t]he unexamined life is not worth living,” may be a bit over the top, but certainly we all need some “C” in our personal and corporate PDCA. Only then can we make reasoned adjustments.

    This of course takes a disciplined commitment of time to reflect (this is cultural). Unfortunately, reflection is often perpetually delayed because while it is so important, it is not urgent. Leadership must set the example and make people feel that it is value-added to reflect AND identify and act on a “start, stop and continuing doing” plan. It is useful to schedule some hansei after certain milestones.

    Also, reflection can also be intimidating. Why would I/we want to identifying shortcomings? Won’t this make me look bad? Again, this is cultural, leadership must set the tone and must humbly lead by example.

    Mark R Hamel February 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm
  • Hi Jamie,

    Socrates’ “[t]he unexamined life is not worth living,” may be a bit over the top, but certainly we all need some “C” in our personal and corporate PDCA. Only then can we make reasoned adjustments.

    This of course takes a disciplined commitment of time to reflect (this is cultural). Unfortunately, reflection is often perpetually delayed because while it is so important, it is not urgent. Leadership must set the example and make people feel that it is value-added to reflect AND identify and act on a “start, stop and continuing doing” plan. It is useful to schedule some hansei after certain milestones.

    Also, reflection can also be intimidating. Why would I/we want to identifying shortcomings? Won’t this make me look bad? Again, this is cultural, leadership must set the tone and must humbly lead by example.

    Mark R Hamel February 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm
  • Hi Jamie,

    Socrates’ “[t]he unexamined life is not worth living,” may be a bit over the top, but certainly we all need some “C” in our personal and corporate PDCA. Only then can we make reasoned adjustments.

    This of course takes a disciplined commitment of time to reflect (this is cultural). Unfortunately, reflection is often perpetually delayed because while it is so important, it is not urgent. Leadership must set the example and make people feel that it is value-added to reflect AND identify and act on a “start, stop and continuing doing” plan. It is useful to schedule some hansei after certain milestones.

    Also, reflection can also be intimidating. Why would I/we want to identifying shortcomings? Won’t this make me look bad? Again, this is cultural, leadership must set the tone and must humbly lead by example.

    Mark R Hamel February 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm