My Continuous Improvement: Reflection is Key to Learning

As I look for ways to improve, I am inspired by other lean thinkers and bloggers.  I see what they are trying and look to how that might work for me.  I try and experiment with things in order to make my job easier and to feel more in control and organized.

I decided to start a series that will be based on what I have tried in order to make my work better.  It may be small or large things and most likely it was an inspiration I got from someone else.  I hope that by passing along what I have learned that it may inspire others the way others have inspired me.

A few years ago, I took a class at the Lean Learning Center.  The class taught the lean principles as presented by Andy Carlino and Jamie Flinchbaugh.  One of the five principles is to “Create a Learning Organization Through Experimentation and Reflection.”  The point that resonated with me was the importance of reflection.  Without reflection, there can be no learning.  Reflection is the time when we take what we have learned and applied and decide how it has worked or not worked for our situation as an individual, group, or organization.  The difference isn’t reflecting after the fact, but planning the reflection in as part of the process.

It resonated so strongly with me that I block off one hour every Friday morning (or last day I work in the week) to reflect on the previous week.  I have been doing this for almost four years now.  There have been weeks when I have missed the reflection time, but that is OK.  It signaled that something was different.  It is such a habit for me that co-workers have stopped interrupting during my reflection time.  I look back at the work done over the last week and how to move forward the next week.  I make note of some of the challenges and mentalities I have encountered over the week so I can reference them if need be at a later date.

I still have room for improvement in how I reflect and the content to make it even more meaningful, but there is no doubt that doing this has helped me understand how I have handled different situations over the last few years.

It’s not the learning and doing that makes us better.  It is understanding how and why the learning and doing makes us better.

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Posted on April 29, 2011, in Learning, My Continuous Improvement and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. When I’m finishing a team meeting I like to end with a little 5-10 minute reflection time for the team – kind of a “lessons learned” time just to ask them what they learned today, whether it be about their specific project or lean in general and let them share their thoughts – build on one anothers’ learnings. I realize this is very fundamental, bread and butter stuff, but I like it and the teams to as well. I’m curious as to other reflection (O.K., I’ll say the Japanese word… “Hansei”) practices those of you reading this blog like to use to help develop lean thinking… Anyone have a favorite method or two you’d like to share? I’d like to hear your ideas.

    Good topic, and this promises to be a good series of posts, Matt.

    • Mark –

      We try to reflect at the end of our meetings also. Sometimes we do a really good job and sometimes we don’t. We have been able to get some improvements out of the reflections when we do them. Thanks for sharing.

  1. Pingback: apprendre, toujours apprendre | Valeur pérenne

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