Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reflection as a Key to Success

Reflection. What does that mean?

You think of seeing your reflection in a mirror, in a still pond. You look at YOU, carefully, critically and hopefully, honestly. You look to assess what is honestly in front of your eyes. You determine what is working and what needs to be changed. It is a useful exercise, not always easy but very helpful to ensure you continue to look your best, to improve.

That is also true in an organization.

Reflection is key not only in managing knowledge but to sustained organizational success.

Assumptions rule us, they often rule behaviors and actions. We assume many things. We assume we know what our problems are, what is working for us and what is not. We assume we are well aware of our biggest challenges and our strengths.

Reflection is when we challenge those assumptions. We take in the information around us, the signs and signals, even the nuanced or subtle ones and assess them to challenge our assumptions. Reflection is necessary for sustained success.

Let me give you an example. Many of my client organizations are multi-national --even the smaller organizations now do business in a number of countries. The world has gotten smaller, technology simpler and cheaper, it has become easy to do business in many countries.

However, very few companies know how to actually WORK GLOBALLY.

We assume that because we have locations and employees in a number of countries that we know how to work globally without challenging that assumption. We assume we know what it takes to work globally. I would make the assertion that we are not familiar with or perhaps do not truly embrace the competencies, behaviors, beliefs and actions it takes to effectively work on an international basis.

We will do more with this in upcoming blogs, but I challenge each of you to take time to REFLECT on working globally. Check the assumptions. What does it take, what are the challenges to working globally? What competencies do you need and does the organization possess those competencies? Can you identify the assumptions you hold or are they so ingrained as to be difficult to recognize? What information are you getting about those assumptions?

For example-- when you are making a leadership decision, do you seek input from those in your location or do you, on a regular basis and as a habit, seek the input from those in your most remote locations? Do you collaborate as easily and often with India as you do with Boston?

I would wager that some of the assumptions you make about your ability to work globally are off base. Gather some information, get some opinions and some facts and assessments. Check your assumptions. What have you got to lose?

Reflection. It is a valuable skill and it takes courage, honesty and time. Without it we can be following each other off a cliff. Reflection is a key component to enhancing and using knowledge globally.

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