When we look at our reflections in a mirror we rarely notice the incremental change. My reflection today is similar to the 22-year-old guy looking back even though I have moved on in vintage since then! When we reflect for deeper understanding we are not looking superficially; instead, we are challenging our processes, our systems, our values and who and what we are.
Donald Schön, in his influential book The Reflective Practitioner, developed the term “reflective practice” (Schön 1983). Schön introduced the concepts of “reflection-in-action” (thinking on your feet) and “reflection-on-action” (thinking after the event). Schön focused his attention on five professional fields – engineering, architecture, psychotherapy, town planning, and education – and talked of the inextricable link between the concept of professionalism and the process of reflective practice.
But how does this reflection-on-action or reflective practice lead to a greater understanding? Well, it is a continuous process of examining, adjusting and trying followed by, you guessed it, more reflecting. It has a similar approach to adopting a design mindset, staying curious, questioning and trying to justify the decisions that are being made.
Some of you are familiar with our Design Thinking Bootcamp, a one-day design thinking experience with a blend of learning and doing. Participants get tangible outcomes through working on a challenge whilst practicing techniques and tools.
I had the pleasure of catching up with some Bootcampers recently so I could learn about how they found the day and how they were getting on with using the learnings and the tools that we used on the day. The feedback was inspiring.
“I can apply what I learned to my day to day in 2 dimensions. 1. In my personal working style. 2. The mindset and methodology we take at looking at different business opportunities.”
Mark Augello, Retail Offer Development Lead, BP
The day had resonated with the Bootcampers I talked to and each had found different ways to integrate practices and tools into their daily work.
“After Bootcamp, I assembled my whole team and we did an empathy map for our customers. It worked amazingly well”.
Leah Betts, Production Manager, Studio Kids
However, there was another purpose to seeking feedback. We also use the discussions to ask about ‘even better if’. This is a technique we use to open a conversation about how we could have better met the needs of the participants. We use these findings to critically review our own products and how we deliver them.
And so I am posing a challenge for you – I want you to reflect and think:
- Do you critically review your products or services?
- When is the last time you spoke to a customer or user on the phone or in person?
- Have you ever asked for feedback from that customer?
- What would they say if you asked them ‘even better if’?
- What can you change in a day?
To help you start thinking about how you might frame your challenge, plan to do research with customers or users and document this. We have prepared a free 3 part resource series that we would love to share with you. It is usually exclusive only to those who attend our Bootcamp and it isn’t on our website – so you do need to sign up in order to get this delivered to your inbox. If you sign up you will get one a week for three weeks. Easy.