The most likely answer to that question is probably “too long ago” or “never” and because you are probably not the only one, this post is for you.

If your business is like most businesses I know, most time is spend doing stuff. Working the to do list and x-ing off whatever has been done.  It gives a sense of accomplishment to delete items and some people I know go as far as to add tasks they have already completed in order to be able to scratch them off again. In the “busyness” of everyday “bizzynes” it is easy to forget to take time out and stop to think and reflect about things.

So why bother with reflection?

American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer, John Dewey, stated: “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” And I think that is true. An experience is just an experience until you reflect upon it. Until you do, you learn nothing from it.

In business you create a lot of experiences, for yourself, for your employees, for your customer, business partners etc. Every action, every interaction creates an experience. You can and should reflect on experience in order to:

  • Make sense of experience
  • Acquire new understanding
  • Gain new insight, ideas, and perspective
  • Enhance customer care and experience
  • Improve guidance to practical actions

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What can you reflect on?

You can reflect on anything. A process you have on developing a new product or bringing it to market. The way you have organized your logistics. The new website you just had developed. The last sales call you made. A contact with a customer. Anything goes, really.

What are the conditions for reflection?

First of all be sure to take the time and plan it in your schedule. This may sound logical if you go through it with other people, but if the reflection date is with just you, still schedule the time in your calendar. And treat it as sacred. Meaning that nothing interferes with it. Unless your office is on fire, you keep that appointment with yourself.

Make sure that during reflection time, phones are off, you are not online, and basically you should unplug yourself from any disturbances by either man or machine.

Find a place that inspires you, stimulates freethinking and an open mind. For some people it may be the beach, for others driving the car, and for a third just putting up his feet on the desk is enough.

How to reflect?

There are numerous ways to reflect. Every expert probably has his or her own method. I’ll give you the method I use and which I find easy to understand as well as practical to use. It is called Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle.

Source image: Oxford Brookes University

How does the Reflective Cycle work?

Of course you have to select an experience to reflect upon. Then you go through the following steps. As it is a cycle you can go through it time and time again.

  1. Description: “What happened? Don’t judge or draw conclusions; simply describe.”
  2. Feelings: “What were you thinking and feeling? Again, don’t analyze these yet.”
  3. Evaluation: “What was good or bad about the experience?”
  4. Analysis: “What sense can you make of the situation?”
  5. Conclusions: “What else could you have done?”
  6. Action plan: “If it arose again, what would you do?”

Today is World Philosophy Day and a good moment to reflect on reflection in your business. What do you say?

By Pepita Bos