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Learning from Experience Through Reflection

Essay by   •  June 12, 2011  •  Essay  •  781 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,589 Views

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This article deals with a new perspective of learning for managers in corporate America. The old traditional paths of learning are outdated in today's business world. Managers cannot plan as they once did they must be adaptable to ever changing technological and social forces. A manager's greatest strength is that which comes from daily experience. What this paper has done is to add an analytical process that can help explore causes, develop and test hypotheses, and eventually produce new knowledge.

The article tries to analyze the reasons that most managers have not yet embraced a reflective learning process. The explanation set forth by the article is that managers have always placed a higher value on action rather than on reflection. This coincides with current managerial demands that do not allow the manager to have the ability to pause and reflect. However, this is starting to change. It is said that many of the tools taught in total quality management (TQM) programs involve processes of reflection. Many of the TQM programs have tried to engage employees in the decisions that go into the production of products. By making each individual worker responsible for his or her work the manager, goes from a position of authoritarian leader to one of a mentor that helps the individual employee find their own answers to problems that might arise.

Reflection as defined in the article: "is the process of stepping back from an experience to ponder, carefully and persistently, its meaning to the self through the development of inferences, learning is the creation of meaning from past or current events that serves as a guide for future behavior". Typically, reflection occurs spontaneously through repetitive rhythmic physical activities such as jogging, swimming laps, or mowing the lawn. If we were to formalize the reflection process, it would be divided into four stages. The first stage would be the articulation of a problem, the second would be the analysis of that problem. The third would be formulation and testing of a tentative theory to explain the problem, and fourth, finally action. This correlates with the adult learning model, which is also an experienced based model. As far as the actual process of learning from experience through reflection, the ideas presented in the article carry much merit. Many times a mistake is repeated over and over again or a company is too slow to change to meet market demands. If the ideas put forth in this article were a common part of corporate culture then many of these mistakes and missed opportunities would occur less frequently. If managers were given the time to analyze their failures and successes they might better be able to determine more efficient means

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