Getting off the merry-go-round

Reflective practitioners and inventing futures.

Do you ever feel that you’re running and running and in reality you’re standing still? You might reach a Friday evening after a busy week and think ‘what’s that all about?’ or you may look back over a more distant horizon, several years of your life, and wonder whether anything’s changed. A Tanzanian leader I respect said to me once that after a quarter century working in a poor region of Tanzania leading a development agency he wondered if anything had really changed. If it matters to us to make a difference then we need ask a few questions. Stop a minute and think  . . .

. . . ‘Reflective Practitioners’ is a term coined by Donald Schon in a book of the same name to talk about the fact that practitioners – people doing professional or practical jobs – ought to build in reflecting on what they’ve done, learning from it, innovating, inventing and doing things differently. Apologies for the ponderous term, which is really describing ‘learning from experience’ or ‘learning on the job’; ‘inventing futures’ in fact.  He wrote the book because he thinks very few people do this. Ring any bells? If it does here’s a piece I wrote for a lecture at a South African university to a whole bunch of development workers. Whilst it’s for a particular audience it applies much more widely.

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