Introduction to Reflective Practice And Organization Development
Reflective Practice and Organizational Development has become a very complex yet important process of firm activities, mainly because of reason that business environment and firm working has become more complex and competitive. This is also the main reason as to why management of corporations, no matter at what scale they be operating, have to bring about changes in their operations as well as in general (Laursen, 2011). The present study has been conducted so as to be able to assess and evaluate the various methods of reflective practices for companies and organizational development; main aim behind it being to suggest ways through which firms in the present day tiring times can sustain and remain competitive for a longer period of time.
For business organizations or rather their management it is crucial that they continuously adapt to the changing world and cater to needs and wants of the general public in a much better, efficient and effective manner (Yeomans, 2000). In the present era, as business world is becoming more and more complex as well as competitive, for companies, approaches such as that of organization development, reflection and reflective practices become all the more important. This is because of reason that it is a very effective way through which not only their working be improved but also chances of their long term-survival can be ensured.
As Schon notes, reflective practices can also be defined as “the capacity to reflect on actions so as to engage in process of continuous learning” (Schon, 1983). This means that reflective learning and practice is a technique through which one can engage into the system of continuous learning and development, by analyzing and evaluating the past deeds. In this regard, from a firms’ point of view it may not be wrong to say that it is a way through which the management gets to assess the work done in past, so as to measure what all steps were taken wrong and also how can the present situation be improved (Russell, 2006). On the other hand, organization development (OD) is a process whcvih is planned on deliberate basis, so as to initiate organization-wide effort so as to bring changes at the workplace and develop organizational working. Over the years, numerous theories and concepts related to reflective practices have been devised and developed by various industry experts. It includes the likes of Single-loop and Double-loop learning; Kolb’s learning model; Gibb’s structured briefing, etc. They have proved to be of great use to both companies and individuals to accentuate their learning and development process (Lang and McNaught, 2013).
One of the best models of reflective practices is the one which was developed by Argyris and Schon. They were the ones who proposed the idea of single and double loop learning in 1978 (Davies, Owens and Willaims, 2004). This theory was developed around the idea as well as modification(s) of an apparent mistake or error in the process of learning. In terms of an organization it can be said that through such an outlook towards business activities, the learning process can be made much simpler and yet a less complex one (Yeo, 2013). Single loop learning occurs when the learner or a firm, even after identifying the mistakes and errors into their working, do not attempt to change or alter their strategy, or policy or technique. This essentially means that from company’s or practitioner’s end no steps are taken so as to ensure that such fault(s) do not arise again while the learning process continues. This theory further goes on to say that learner do not tend to modify their current strategy, even after the same slip up occurs again. On the other hand, Double Loop Learning is the opposite of single loop learning (Jasper, 2003). It opines that practitioners do tend to alter their course of action and learning style, but only in a personal way, i.e. they modify the personal objectives, strategies and/or policies. This way it can be ensured that the same problem does not occurs the second time (Petkus, 2000).
Kolb’s Reflective Model is another in the series of different reflective practices and theories. It majorly focuses on concepts and facts related to experiential learning and conversion of whatever information gained and obtained into useful as well as meaningful knowledge (Petkus, 2000). This model starts to work only after a particular situation or event has taken place and when the learner tries to look back upon experiences (good or bad) gained from the scenario. This helps the practitioner in obtaining general understanding of the concepts which go into formation of learning process and making it much efficient and effective (Holman, Pavlica and Thorpe, 2007). It is an interconnected process, as it consists of various elements which are interwoven and continuous in nature. This means that the model which was proposed by Kolb in 1984 is an ongoing process, as once it starts, there, practically is no end to it. This model is like a cycle.
Observations and reflections can be called as a first step in Kolb’s reflective model. It entails that the learner must observe and analyze their learning style and the results that they have obtained of it (Kolb, 1999). This would help them immensely in developing such an approach to their learning and gain an attitude through which it can be optimized and also effort be made so as to critically reflect on whatever they have learned. In an organization’s context it would entail that management of the company must make every effort to evaluate their past actions and assess their positive as well as negative effects. Formation of abstract concepts and generalizations entails that the learner or practitioner must focus on developing some general concepts about whatever they have learned during the tenure (Svinici and Dixon, 2010). Through this step the practitioner would be able to determine as to what all mistakes they have made and then try to make sure that they are not repeated. By developing some generalized key concepts, management of an organization, to a great extent would be able to make sure that they follow the right kind of approach so as to effectively reflect on their learning. The step of testing the implications of concepts in new situations reflective learning and practice involves that authorities of a company should test the concepts that they had generalized in the previous steps. For this they require to continuously get into unknown and unchartered territories, as it would enable them to evaluate their experience and learning in a much efficient and effective manner (Moon, 2013). In this regard it may not be wrong to say that management of the company would to a great extent be able to determine as to their past actions and deeds have been any useful to the organizational goals and objectives. Concrete experience is the last stage of the model. It states that through the above mentioned steps, learner or rather authorities of an organization would be able to develop some concrete and solid experiences (Bilyk, 2010). In this step, past deeds and actions have a very important role to play, as they are the ones which would help them to make their learning as efficient and effective as possible. This way authority of the firm would be able to make sure that they acquire the best possible results and thus be able to implement the change in organization in a much efficient and effective manner.
The business organizations of the modern world are characterized to be working in extremely competitive and uncertain markets. In this regard it has become imperative for them that they engage into such activities and tasks through which overall working of the corporation be improved and also goals can be attained with ease and comfort (Day, 2003). In this sense, reflective practices may seem to be a very good option for the companies, because of reason that it is a way through which they can not only improve the working, but also make sure that targets and goals are obtained easily. By reflecting upon the work and overall performance which the firm has given in the past, management to a great extent can improve their activities, and thus be able to achieve the targets that they have set for themselves (Bilyk, 2010).
One of the main elements of reflective practices is that the learner or practitioner must evaluate the work that they have done in the past and try to identify the areas that they have fell short in while also ensuring that the targets are attained comfortably (Laursen, 2011). Herein the management of a company by adopting the reflective practices would be able to know their shortcomings and also the reasons as to why the developed goals and targets were not attained as the way they should have been. They would also be able to determine ways through which overall firm performance can be improved and accentuated. In the modern business environment, such practices can turn out to be of great use to the company, as not only will it be able to acquire competitive edge, but also make sure that they survive can in market for a long time. As the markets are becoming more and more competitive, reflective practices and reflection has emerged as the best option through which an attempt can be made so as to develop a competitive edge and also cater to needs and wants of the target customers in a much efficient and effective way (Morrison, 2006). In this regard it may not be wrong to say that management of a corporation may find it out to be a very good option through which they can operate in the market and survive for a very long time period. Therefore in the same context it also may not be wrong to say that through such an approach to organizational working, management of the company would also be able to much effectively identify and determine the various market forces that affect their operations. This way overall conduct and performance of the firm may also be improved (Tan, 2009).
There are a lot many reflective practices and models which can be considered by authorities of a company, as discussed above. But one of the best approaches in an organization’s context is that of Single and Double loop reflection. This is so because of reason that it would enable the authorities to know what the areas are where they are slipping and how can they be improved. It can be supported through fact that through this method of reflection, they would be able to lay hands on precious information(s) such as the ones which sufficiently explain the reasons behind bad performance and slip up of the company (Perry and Shoham, 2009). The model of Single Loop Learning would help authorities in a significant manner to determine the spots where they are lacking some or the other kind of abilities. Though in this method, the management would not be required to develop, improve their strategies substantially. But when the same situation and scenarios persists, then the authorities would have to think and develop new ways through which they can deal with the issue in a proper and effective manner. On the other hand, if top management of an organization decide to use the Double Loop Learning method, then they would be able to deal with the problem and challenge in a much effective manner, as they would have the ability to change and alter their current strategies and tactics in such a manner that the issue can be met with and resolved (Behrens and Neumaier, 2009). This way the authorities can be sure that they would not fall short in the same area. It would also mean that the firm would walk on path towards progress.
‘Change’ – it is such a concept of organizational working which must be given a lot of attention to, or else the company may have to suffer by great margins. For companies, no matter in what market they are operating, it is very much necessary that they change or modify or develop their approach towards work. If it is not done on a regular basis, then there are very les chances that the organization would be able to survive in the industry, let alone attaining the goals and objectives (Judge and Holbeche, 2011). In this regard, reflective practices and reflection may prove to be of immense use to the company. This is so because of reason that it would enable the management to make sure that they are able to effectively implement change at the workplace and that it is well accepted by the employees. Through the help of various kinds of reflective practices and models, the company would to a great extent be able to deal with issues related to managing change such as that of resistance to change, etc.
Change management is a concept of organizational working which consist of a lot many elements and facets. For management and authorities of an organization, it is imperative that they pay attention to this aspect of organizational working (Grieves, 2000). This can be supported through fact that as the market is becoming more and more competitive, for companies it has become essential that they evolve on a continuous basis. It is the only way through which they can remain competitive in the market and also make sure that they have the competitive edge. In this regard it may not be wrong to say that a firm by using the various models of reflective practices and reflection would be able to bring about changes in their working. Herein such companies would see a considerable change not only in attainment or goals or operations; but also how effectively it caters to the needs and wants of the customers, thus satisfying them. By following the various models of reflective practices, management would be able to lay hands on such kinds of information through which their overall efficiency and effectiveness could be improved and that the targets are attained with ease and comfort (McLean, 2005). By using the model of reflective practices to introducing and implementing a change at the workplace, management of an organization to a great deal would be able to bring the development and ensure that the firm still is able to attain its various goals and objectives.
From the above study it can be concluded that as the present market that various organizations operate in becoming more and more complex as well as competitive, for companies it has become imperative that they adopt various reflection and reflective practices. This is so because of reason that it is the only way through which overall organizational working be improved. During the course of this study it was seen that there are a lot many theories and models of reflective practices which can be considered by an organization. But one of the most efficient and effective is that of the Single and Double Loop Learning, because it would enable the management to determine areas that they are slipping in and ensure that it does not raise again.
The above study was conducted for the purpose of carrying out an analysis into the various models and theories of reflection and reflective practices with a view to understand what and how can they be used by organizations during periods of change. Through this research study, there were a lot many points that I learned on. For instance I came to know that the modern business environment is becoming very competitive, which means that there are numerous organizations which operate in the market and compete with one another at various levels. Due to this very reason, it can be said that those firms which do not change or modify their approach to working have very less chances of survival in the market. In this regard it may not be wrong to say that change management for every company, regardless of what industry they are operating in, is a very important process and system. Through this study, I also came to know that there are many models to reflection and reflective practices. For the modern business organizations they are some of the most important tools. I realized a very important fact during the study that by continuously reflecting on activities of the organization, management can be sure that they can make the employees to not only give their best but also make sure that the organizational goals and targets are attained with ease and comfort. By conducting this study, I can now say that it reflection and reflective practices is not only important for companies, but also for individuals. This is so because of reason that by such an analysis, persons would be able to get such information about their workings that improvements can be brought about. In this regard it may not be wrong to say that the management would get hold of such precious information by reflecting on their work, by which their overall performance and productivity can be improved by a great margin. This way it can be assured that the company would be able to attain its goals and objectives in a much efficient and effective manner. One of the major results that I achieved out of this research is that I could determine that ‘change’ or development in operations of a company is a very important process and part as well. This is so because of reason that as the marketplace is becoming more and more competitive, because of which it is becoming extremely important for companies that they adjust to the changing environment. Through this study I learned a lot about reflective practices and the importance of reflection. In this regard, I can now say that due to such reasons, I can much effectively cater to the needs of the organization that I would want to work in.
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