Monday, October 19th, 2020

The Reflective Practitioner

One of the four kinds of leadership agility identified in the book is called “self-leadership agility.” This is the ability to be proactive in learning from one’s experience as a leader. Like the other three types of agility, it moves through a cycle of reflection and action: experimenting with new behavior, reflecting and learning from these experiences, then fine-tuning the process going forward.

One of the pioneers in understanding and teaching reflective action was Don Schon, who was one of my thesis advisors back in the late 70s and early 80s. Don was a very thoughtful man who left us too soon. He wrote a number of books, including several with Chris Argyris. But my favorite was The Reflective Practitioner (1983). His perspective contributed to my understanding that reflective action is at the core of Leadership Agility.

I was reading the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review (July-Aug. 2010) today and was very interested to see The Reflective Practitioner among its reviewed books (p. 167) – an indication that it is still considered a classic. In the book, Don examined five professions, showing how a sometimes intuitive process of reflective learning amid real-life conditions underlies the development of professional competence. Something of a deep read, but worth it.

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