In today's post: Things I Think I Think, Wendy reflected deeply on issues of reflecting at work. I considered simply saying "Yes I agree with all you've said", but I realized I could add to everything she wrote. So here is she and me.
1) I think that corporate culture (in general) DISCOURAGES the development of reflexive learners (platitudes to the contrary).
For those of us working in corporate environments, the stress is on DOING stuff (or, at least, APPEARING to DO stuff) rather than thinking/ reflecting/ planning/ anything that requires NOT ACTING INSTANTANEOUSLY.
Evidence of reflective learning looks suspiciously like goofing off.... Yes, I am writing, but I'm not writing a step-by-step guide on how to schedule a patient. I'm writing about how do teach that better. Why is that important when our old way works just as well (never mind the phone calls from folks who didn't understand the material in the first place)? Therefore, I am goofing off.....
I've become convinced that it takes someone getting results and satisfaction from reflective practice to see it on others. Most people are "slaves to the machine", and identified with their activity. Human doings have no tolerance for human beings. When they see others "goofing off", they are seeing themselves as incapable of productive downtime, useful timeouts and inspired stillness. Instead of using the mirror to reflect on their condition, they maintain their condition by taking the reflection in the mirror as no reflection on themselves.
2) I think that encouraging an organization requires serious culture change for most of us. Question for those working in corporate environments. How many times have you been faced with a student / students who say point blank "just tell me how to do it!" You tell them, then they call you back the same day accusing you of not "teaching" them because you just told them how to do it? Is it just me?!?!?!?
The delivery of content spawns a "morbid dependency on authority figures". Those that have been raised on being told how to think, act and fill in the blank cannot think for themselves reliably. They think of how to escape pressures, to get even or to get attention -- but not how to contribute, deepen the significance or create innovative changes. It's embarrassing for them to always need to be told, so they lash out at getting exposed as needy and deprived of their dependency.
3) There has to be some way to nudge / cajole / wheedle / bribe an organization into at least allowing reflexive thinking practices - or, at least, not actively preventing them, at ALL levels of an organization.
Whenever I've seen reflexive thinking in an organization, it is at the highest levels and/or within individual, isolated pockets of rebellion. Hmmm...maybe if we bridge those pockets somehow......
Now there's a useful "Freudian slip"! "Reflexive thinking" is knee jerk, lock step, vending machine utterances after being brainwashed, indoctrinated or lobotomized. Reflexive thinking is devoid of reflective thinking and poised to actively prevent it in others. I suspect that reflective thinkers naturally gravitate toward each other to share insights, deepen each other's reflecting, and use contrasting realizations to venture further into unknowns. I also suspect that reflexive thinkers stick together to avoid "cognitive dissonance", keep things superficial and collude on labeling the reflective thinkers as losers, troublemakers or traitors.
4) The only way I can think of starting (as Tom said) is to model the behavior as best I can. I only truly have control over my own actions, right? At least, more control over my own actions than over others (over which I may have persuasive ability, but no actual control).
Beyond modeling and leading by example, we can hit that publish button in our blogging software. We can get read, subscribed to, commented on and quoted in other contexts. We can start a new reflective exploration, join in an ongoing one or simply observe others until an enticing one comes along. When we feel encouraged and understood by other reflective practitioners, we calm down. We set a different tone and give off different vibes in our immediate surroundings. We seem more approachable and worth listening to.
5) The only other thing I can think of doing is to encourage this radical behavior one individual (or really open group) at a time. Just like we are doing amongst each other in this little corner of the blogosphere. Enough individuals and we have tipping point, right?
It seems more likely that we will reach a critical mass online, than "in cubicle". Physical locations function more like "groups and walled gardens". Stephen Downes has sensitized us to the shortcomings of restricting any of the valuable diversity of an open network. Besides there no way with live bodies to tag, bookmark, link back or add comments 6 hours later to what got said in passing.
6) Blogging while ill is a dangerous thing...
Still fighting the evil Shingles. Wendy, these are like chicken pox, but worse, and that takes 2 weeks to clear up. You didn't think this was just gonna go away in a weekend, did you????
Something I've re-discovered during my convalescence, clarity of thought comes at a premium when you are ill / under stress.
For years, I've noticed myself creating a "mandatory timeout" via illness when I was stressed out, incapable of reflecting, and caught up in too much action. A two week convalescence is a superb break from the action. Given the clarity, depth and expanse of Wendy's insights here, I'd say the hidden purpose of her case of shingles is getting well served. When we've been acting like human doings, we all need time to feel like human beings again.