7

Organizing reflection

I have suggested that an important shift in the study of learning moves it away from a focus on what individuals learn and how this is applied in an organization. I have explained and explored the thinking that underpins a strategic perspective on learning, particularly how politics and emotions interact to create organizing processes that may limit or undermine learning and change. In the final three chapters of the book I shift the focus away from the development of theory or ideas about strategic learning and towards practice, discussing what this means for three key organizing processes, reflection, leadership and intervention/future HRD practice.

In this chapter I discuss an approach to reflection that can assist in rethinking strategic learning. My emphasis is on reflection as an organizing process rather than on the individual, reflective practitioner (Schön, 1983). I am attempting to describe one way of organizing reflection in order to create and sustain opportunities for strategic learning. I suggest that the specific practices that contribute to reflection as an organizing process will be informed by three characteristics. First, such practices should contribute to the collective questioning of assumptions that underpin organizing in order to make power relations visible. Second, reflective practices necessarily provide a 'container' for the management of the anxieties raised by making power relations visible. Third, reflective practices contribute towards democracy in the organization. I continue by describing four reflective practices. These are: peer consultancy groups, role analysis and role analysis groups, action learning, and group relations conferences. I explain and explore each of these and define their impact at different levels of organizing. Collectively, the four reflective practices constitute an approach to reflection that represents one way of organizing for learning and change. I am therefore addressing the question, what are the various reflective practices that might stimulate strategic learning?

I have already outlined the importance of the relationship between politics and emotion to strategic learning. An analysis of the interaction between emotion and politics reveals how employees relate to and construct organizational practices, and therefore makes plain the structural features that tend to locate people in positions of inequality or impotence. This perspective invites 'critical reflection' (Reynolds, 1998) on what managers think they know and how they

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Rethinking Strategic Learning
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • 1 - An Introduction 1
  • 2 - Strategic Learning and Hrd 13
  • 3 - Power, Emotion and Organizational Learning 38
  • 4 - Emotion and Strategic Learning 58
  • 5 - Being Taken Over 76
  • 6 - The Politics of Imagined Stability 91
  • 7 - Organizing Reflection 106
  • 8 - Redefining Leadership 127
  • 9 - The Point of Intervention 146
  • References 161
  • Index 170
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