Hindsight, and reflection: Insights into Learning
Hindsight; I find unhelpful. Reflection, I rate. What is the difference?
Hindsight leaves me feeling inadequate, and with a sense of failure, that my effort was not good enough.
Hindsight encourages fault finding, blame and criticism. Each is entirely unhelpful in any learning process.
Reflection enables me to identify causes, helps me reset a vision of what is possible, identify what I want to learn, and apply.
Why is reflection valuable?
Setting out to achieve a vision or new direction can be intimidating. When implementing visions to better the world, things inevitably go wrong. Take my recent vision to easily access clear monthly business financials. The transition to Xero accounting, purported to be simple, was plagued with problems which those accountable didn’t know how to fix.
My trusted accountant of 14 years retired and sold her business. A month prior to year-end, I decided to change accountants. I switched to Xero at the same time. The glitches began.
It was as if neither my bank, nor the new accountancy firm had ever used Xero, or that Xero had ever linked a new customer account.
Why are simple processes are not followed?
What caused glitches?
I found six causes:
- Out of date forms on the bank’s website
- Help desk helpers who want to be helpful but weren’t familiar with the process themselves
- Lack of oversight of helpers
- Lack of relationship between the bank and Xero meant updated requirements were overlooked
- Meaningful stats weren’t used to assess efficacy
- Technological solutions were offered when human interaction was needed
Did I find this frustrating? Yes. Was I sharper in my interactions? Yes. Did this help? No.
What helped? Being patient, being persistent and becoming curious. As leaders, we have this choice: we can become passive and make the situation worse, or we can engage in dialogue to make the situation better.As leaders, we have this choice: we can become passive and make the situation worse, or we can engage in dialogue to make the situation better. Click To Tweet
What do we need to do next? What will help here? Who might I talk with who does know how this works?
It was my bank manager who knew the process and had access to accurate documents. His help desk team had neither. They were disempowered. He was doing their work.
This reminded me that trusting staff to ‘get on with it’ only works if staff are empowered to act; if they …
- Can make decisions that help clients
- Know the processes they oversee
- Have up to date information
- Have good customer relationships.
Anyone can collaborate as long they have the resolve to do so. It is a matter of being provided with the tools you need in order to take action.
Glitches, setbacks, and mistakes are part of learning.
I have been taken aback with the relentless criticisms of the failures, oversights and mistakes with the current border control quarantine programme. Mistakes and oversights are inevitable with any new regime. I have noticed a significant gap amidst the criticism, blame and finger pointing – the lack of collective responsibility.
With collective responsibility, we have a chance to learn from mistakes. Casting blame doesn’t help anyone; collective action is required to achieve an end goal.Casting blame doesn’t help anyone; collective action is required to achieve an end goal. Click To Tweet
Unless we see ourselves as ‘in this together’ and take accountability for mistakes and glitches, bureaucracy dominates innovation, and the process dominates end results.
We can adjust the regime to the new situation. We can adapt to the new situation, and become responsive learning organisations.
Think for a moment about how collective responsibility might apply to your own leadership team.
When things don’t work out, do you and your team take collective responsibility rather than criticising or blaming?
Starting today, what might you change or improve?
Leaders’ confidence is not about knowing you are right. Confidence is knowing you can make things right, come what may.
Diana Jones ©