Discuss about reflective management………………….
Reflective manager 3
Application of the reflective practice 4
Individual Learning 5
Organisational Learning 8
Managers are steering their organisations to continually improve their efficiency and effectiveness to give their customers what they want. One of the best ways to actually to do this is by learning from their past experiences and mistakes that have shaped the organisation which is done by reflecting.
The discussion will look at learning and acquisition of knowledge in reflective practice and how they have been used in the contemporary business environment to create a competitive advantage to the organisation against its competitors.
The environment in which organisations operate in is one that is very complex and rapidly changes all the time (Thomas, 2003) cited in management path way week1 (n.d). This situation requires the manager to plan and come up with appropriate strategies that will help them to be able to survive in the business world. To be able to plan the whole organisation will definitely need to learn through reflection in order to change the situation.
Reflection “is the genetic term for those intellectual and effective activities in which individuals engage to explore their experiences in order to lead to new understandings and appreciation’’ (Boud et al, 1985) as cited in Management pathway week 2 (n.d). Reflection is done on two basis reflection on action which is thinking about the past deeds and reflection in action which is considering what one is doing while doing it. This process will be done by the managers and the whole organisation in general since today, most learning is done with the consideration of the whole organisational processes and not just limited to the manager thinking (Management pathway week 6, n.d).
Application of the Reflective Practice
Reflection is the critical observation of one’s experiences in order to critically understand them so as to be able to effectively and efficiently put them into practise. This practise has been given much attention in recent times which makes people think it is a new phenomenon but in truth reflective practise has been there for a very long time. Reflective practise has been widely used in the education institutions as a study method but of late it is applied in professional practise with almost all organisations adopting it. To most professionals reflective practise is seen as a research method where one looks at different factors that have been there and are there to come up with an outcome that is favourable in the future
As earlier stated in the reflection process learning is very crucial if the organisation wants to gain the appropriate knowledge that will help it get competitive advantage against its competitors. Learning for organisations’ is not a one man’s affair but it entails the commitment of the whole organisation which will look at the following important technologies which are personal mastery, mental modes, shared vision, team learning and systems thinking (Management pathway week 5, n.d). This goes show that reflection is not just limited to the managers but is relevant to the organisation as a whole. This is the reason that has seen a variety of fields picking up the trend among them being medicine, nursing, social work, public health, law, management and education while making reflective practise a widely practiced theory in organisations in recent times.
However reflection in the organisation works in three different directions depending o the current needs of the organisation. These are:-
- Reflection-on-action requires one to look back on what they have so far accomplished and reviews the actions that they applied in that situation.
- Reflection-in-action here requires the individual to reflect while doing the task.
- Reflection-for-action calls for the individual to review what has been accomplished so far and reflects on the guidelines that they will follow so as to succeed in the task in future (Killion and Todnem, 1991).
When reflection according to any of these three directions a procedure will be followed that will help one to come up with the best solution. Once the individual know the learning approach that the are to take then they will decide on the best learning theory that suits them which will either be single loop learning which relies on detecting and correcting errors in relation to given operating norms (Argyis, 1991) and double loop learning which assumes that the established goals should be changed to even better goals (Hiebert and Klatt, 2001) as cited in Management practice week 3 (n.d).
For learning to be effective in the organisation it will start with the individual in the organisation whether it is the manager or the employee. Since reflection is based on learning from past experience of the individual it is important to know the individual both personally and individually so as to know their learning needs. It is a fact that individuals are very different from each other and to ensure that reflection succeeds through learning the manager should understand where they are coming from. It is therefore very important to understand their values, beliefs and attitudes in relation to their professional culture in relation to the organisation. By understanding how one views their organisation in terms of their personal believes will help to know how their experiences come by in order to affect proper learning if knowledge is to be acquired.
As stated by Mann et al (2009) the health care sector operates in such a complex environment and it is important that the professionals in this sector have the strength and the will to operate in the environment while they constantly update their knowledge and skills in order to be prepared to solve the complex health problems with the use of the reflective practise. This is the only way that the health care organisations will be able to succeed by getting such individuals that it will be able to prepare them to respond to these complex situations facing the organisation. She further suggests that an individual understanding of reflection is seen as a very crucial attribute for one to be recognised as a competent health care professional to the extent that one has to have evidence to show that they have knowledge in reflective practice in order to a get a practise license.
The reflective practise has also been used in the health sector with the practitioners using their daily experiences to come with innovative ways to deal with patients. Here the practitioners view learning as a strategy that is very important due to the ever changing medical environment. It is easier to deal with a condition that one has previously treated and researched about that way it will be easier for the practitioner to deal with the original symptoms as they learn about the new symptoms that have developed recently.
A study by Mann et al (2007) on the health care profession further shows that the health care professionals work in very complex environment that keeps on changing and since they deal with health issues they must continually refresh their knowledge and skills to deal with complex patients and problems. To ensure that the practitioners are always prepared to take on new and developing cases it is up to the management to use learning in reflection and the reflection practice for effective practice.
Another UK case study done by Lange (2009) shows how to use reflective practice learning to take care of patients with subarachnoid haemorrhage which manifests itself in different symptoms and signs.If one delays to diagnose this disease early then the patient is at risk of dying. This is a disease that needs one to be quick in observation and diagnosing which will determine the patient recovery. This study discusses the use of learning from reflection of past patients behaviours as one of the most efficient and effective ways in which the nurses can use to diagnose this disease.
Seeing its importance in the health sector has seen the need to ensure that it starts right from the curriculum in schools. Here students are meant to undertake a reflective practice of their working experience by keeping journals, diaries, logs or e-portfolios of their experience in their respective organisations during their placements then they will then discuss this experience with their professors to see how this will help them in their future as career and professional people.
Reflective management is not only applied in health studies alone it is also taught in other fields also. A study done by Tomkins (2009) on a group of leisure management students explains the importance of reflection practice through personal experience learning. This study required the students to develop stories of personal development that they will use in an interview situation. From the study it was concluded that through learning from experience the students are able to construct their own meaning from their situations and the knowledge they acquired. This method helps them acquire reflective skills and hence they gradually they are able to build awareness, confidence and understanding of themselves as learners and future professionals. They also understood that each individual is different and it is important for them to share their knowledge and experiences with each other so that their outcomes may be favourable to them and their organisations in the future.
Once the manager has been able to know the views of the individual employees on a particular issue this may be through meetings or briefings or surveys he will then use this information to see how he can use the existing organisational tools to change the existing method of operation to a new one. This will require his attention to the reflective process through which he will be guided from what he knows to what he thinks should be done and then start the learning process of the new way. This process is not an easy one since the organisation may already be accustomed to operating in a certain way. This might need the manger to first change the normal thinking of the organisation which might be very expensive and costly. Most organisations might like this idea of change and may decide to use the short cut by solving problems without having to change their whole organisation operations. This kind of learning in reflection is associated with single loop learning theory which is mostly adopted with firms that do not have the power and the financial backbone to change. It is mostly seen in small manufacturing firms or new firms that have recently started their operations.
Teare (2011) observed that organisations in hospitality management also learn from their past experiences and they can also remember past experiences that can influence the future actions in the organisation. This shows that organisations in the hospitality industry develop skills to know the action that can be properly used to decide the actions that they effectively implement and those they won’t use in the course of operations.
The Johnson Matthey Bank, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International and Barings in UK did a research to know what learning through the past mistakes and experiences would do to their organisation. The research found out that the negligence of the management and the organisation to learn from past mistakes was the major determining factor of the crisis that was affecting them at the moment. Since according to the customers and stakeholders review they were doing exactly the same things that they had raised issues about and were not willing to change. The research helped the organization to realise what they were not doing right and gave them guidelines on how solve the industrial crisis that they were facing using learning and reflection (Stead and Smallman, 1999).
These studies show that the different industries are very dynamic and are being faced with different challenges. In order for the organisations to perform well in the market then they should be able to consider their performance and check the different individual experiences with the overall organisation’s past experiences and come with solutions so as to remain competitive, perform well consistently over time. It is only through individual and organisational reflection will they be aware of their present condition, analyse the situation, learn from their mistakes and acquire new knowledge on how to deal with them.
Although most of the small manufacturing firms in UK utilise reflection but when they deem it necessary and have seen its benefit but they are acknowledge that they are very limited in their reflective practice but they ensure to make good use of the little knowledge they might acquire from the single loop learning theory. However an observation has been seen by most researchers that most of them would opt to the totally changing method which is the double loop learning theory. There have been studies that suggest methods on how the firms can utilize the single loop method maximally to achieve results or use the double loop method to achieve results with the lowest possible costs that won’t bankrupt their organisations. All in all most of them generally accepted that despite the challenges they face they view learning as a reflective method works for them (Chaston et al, 2003).
As much as change is seen as an expensive affair it is only fair to say that the adoption of reflective practise by most organisation entails that there is need to change since it is the only way that reflective practise will be seen as working by changing the existing knowledge to a new and better knowledge useful for the organisation. Most firms are using this reflective study to change in order to improve their organisation’s performance. This practice has been seen as very beneficial process to ensure that organisations are able to get what they need from reflection whether it is improving their goods or service delivery to their customers it helps them excel both in the present as they prepare for the future.
As earlier noted that for organisations to learn through reflection the knowledge and experience of the individual in the organisation is very important since the situations that lead to organisational learning will emanate from the individual due to the new information the he acquires and compares it to the old information and then finds a suitable way which to infuse this knowledge and change the organisation. Reflection is welcomed in the construction industry as way of removing them in the position which they are stuck to a new better way of operation. A study done by Orange et al (2005) show that the construction industry in UK is highly fragmented and has more than 95% of these firms as small sized. The industry apart from being very competitive it also experiences a lot of problems and there has been a serious need to restructure the industry.
The stakeholders recognized that working individually may not be beneficial to them so they have opted to work together as a team and come up with a knowledge bank where they keep all the information that they see as relevant to the construction industry. Through the knowledge of expert and the reflection of the construction industry the stakeholders’ through their teams have set up a foundation that will help all of the stakeholders in knowledge acquisition and ways in which learning from reflection can be useful. By using ones experiences and comparing with other peoples experiences and problem solving techniques most firms will be able to change the culture that associates most of the construction companies a failures. The teams also come up with ways of dealing with the ever changing environment by comparing note son how each firm was able to deal a particular issue
Through reflective management, the organisation is able to nurture its members to acquire, share, create and apply knowledge acquired from learning that will be used in decision making. It is important for the manager to always include his employees in the reflective learning process since it creates room for experience sharing and knowledge acquisition which will be very crucial decisions in the organisation. In recent times reflection has been seen as a breakthrough to solving almost all organisational problems and issues. Therefore learning both individually and organisational while acquiring knowledge in reflective process brings about the competitive edge the organization will need against its competitors to be able to provide better and unique services to their customers.
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Lange F. (2009), Nursing management of subarachnoid hemorrhage: A reflective case Study British Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, Vol. 5, Issue. 10, pp 463 – 470.
Mann .K, Gordon J., and Mac A., (2009) Reflection and reflective practice in Health professions Education: a systematic review Advance in Health Science Education 14:595–621
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Facilitating Organizational Learning within the Construction Industry, Idea Group Inc
Stead. E, and Smallman. C, (1999). Understanding Business Failure: Learning and Un-
Learning from Industrial Crises Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management Volume 7, Issue 1, pages 1–18
Teare .R. (2011) Learning at Work: Practical Steps to Maximize the Individual and Organizational Benefits. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes Vol. 3 No. 1, 14-29
Tomkins. A, (2009) Practice Paper Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education, 8(2), 123 – 131
Thomas, (2003) cited in Management pathway week 1: The Reflective manager
Boud et al, (1985) Management pathway week 2: The Reflective manager, what is reflection?
Weick and Westley, (1999) Management pathway week 3: The reflective manager, Working with knowledge in organizations.
Management pathway week 5: The reflective manager, Learning organizations, organization learning and culture.
Management pathway week 6: The reflective manager, Embedding reflective practice within organizations
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