Learning through reflection with reflect learn apply embeds improved practices and consistent behaviours within a community of practice by exposing and building on the experiences and expertise within the group. It provides a form of accelerated experience.
Education and change research proves that real management development occurs when individuals translate their intuitions into judgemental understanding. This comes about when they recognise the clear and immediate relevance of what they are considering to their work experience.
True learning occurs when views are exchanged. Critical thinking, the reflection on what experience has taught, is used as the basis for subsequent actions.
CITI’s format for causing sustained behavioural and performance change provokes active engagement from participants as they work through a series of challenges. These are generated from the use and differing interpretations of common internal processes. Many individuals have a wealth of experience and CITI’s approach explores, evolves and enriches this through a series of conversations and challenges.
When the participants return to their workplace, they can immediately see how to adapt and adopt the tools and techniques they have talked through with their colleagues. They will also benefit from critical networks of support; those people they can call to discuss and extend the use and value of what they are doing.
Learning done this way accelerates experience. When learning to ride a bicycle, first you may watch others riding and think, “I’d like to do that!”. Having observed others, you need to get involved by doing; you get on the bike (sometimes with training wheels, mostly not) and experience the ‘feeling’ of balancing and peddling.
We get feedback on our progress; perhaps physically as we fall, perhaps through verbal encouragement and advice. Through this process we get better at riding. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you reflect on the experience. Understanding what you did and what it felt like allows you to make further attempts and master the process.
In a Reflect-Learn-Apply programme, the starting point is an opportunity for members of a project community to share views and observations. All contributors are on an equal footing and ideas and experiences are pooled. A ‘map’ of the subject under debate is established. Points of interest, i.e. difficulties that occur in the managing of projects, are structured as challenges. Becoming involved in solving a challenge is like getting on the bike: it is the point when knowledge and theory is confronted by the realities of ‘uneven surfaces’ and ‘uncertain balance’.
At the conclusion of the programme – usually 8 -10 weeks and perhaps 4 workshops with work-based effort – the learning is converted into artefacts, procedures and processes. More importantly, there are shifts in attitudes and behaviours that are enduring.
Our approach to business case studies would typically involve the use of the following tools and models: