Reflective practice is the process of review, and learning from previous experiences. These processes are used in a wide variety of professions from Nursing to the Military. An example of one of these processes would be ‘Action after review’ which is used in the US Military. It is a process that reviews the action that was taken, focusing on:
- What was supposed to happen;
- What did happen;
- What could be improved;
- What should be done again;
- What can be improved for the next time?
While this lays out the factors that should be reported on, it does not deal with how the answers should be implemented. The important thing to remember is that having the reflective process is not the important part. There is no point in developing reflective process if these learnings are not implemented in future work.
Double loop learning
If a project is reflected on but the learnings are not implemented or acted on this is called single loop learning. What we strive to do is create a double loop where relevant learnings are taken, then applied to the next project. As a UX Consultant this reflective process is critical as it allows learning from others, when these learnings are shared as well as from our own experiences. It enables identification of how techniques are being developed going forward, and to seek review of outcomes of projects.
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Shared experiences for organisational learning
As consultants working on different projects with different team members, it is essential that learnings are shared with the wider company, otherwise this knowledge and experience is tied to individuals and not the organisation. At Nomensa we facilitate learning practices following more traditional methods and are trying some new methods of facilitating this organisational learning. We traditionally hold project wash up meetings which follows a similar method to the Action after review. But these lead to documents that were created after the end of a project, and did not easily facilitate sharing of learnings from the project with other members of the company.
We also present recent finding in our team meetings allowing team members to share issues that they come across, and develop solutions. Though this does allow for rich feedback, one down side of this method is that this sharing is only available in an instant, due to the transfer of knowledge being limited to those who are there. While this technique allows issues to be shared with the wider team it does mean that they are difficult to share and return to later.
Creation of a knowledge database
To solve these two issues, project reflections being difficult to find and issues with sharing solutions in a team meeting, where they are difficult to record, we are developing a Knowledge database. This Knowledge database will store projects that we have completed, storing the learnings from project reviews and the techniques used. It also records the team members meaning that they can be easily contacted for a more in-depth discussion if needed. With use this should ensure our team members can keep up to date with the projects that are running in the company as well as finding out were improvements have been made to our techniques and how they can be applied going forward. This database helps new staff members as they are able to discover how we work and who is working on what project. It also ensures they can gain a holistic view of the work we do and the standards our clients expect.