Recently we learned how to organize cycles. Here the most important part of Action Research goes: analysis, which we perform at the end of each cycle. This gives us the input for the next cycle. And, if we carry this stage out effectively, we can quickly adjust the direction of our movement, choose optimal tasks, and even feel better during the process.
When I say: “If you perform this work effectively”, you shouldn’t worry that this requires any special talent or knowledge. Optimization of our work within the methodology will always be the topmost cycle, because of it we “learn how to learn”. So, the upper cycle turns out to be something like a “perpetual motion machine” that optimizes itself and all cycles of the lower levels. You just need to start, the rest will come naturally with time.
When we take our first steps, Action Research may seem like a fitness exercise or a diet: something that you need to do through internal resistance. But, with practice, you find that you can use the same process not only to increase productivity but also to make your work much more fun along the way.
The analysis of the results should be based not only on analytical data and facts, we should also take into account our state, laziness and procrastination, doubts and fear, up to paying attention to the feeling of emptiness in the stomach in time, or sudden fatigue and the desire to sleep at the sight of a certain task. We must analyze everything that influences our decisions, plans and actions deeper to increase the speed of our evolution.
All these minor factors are, in fact, good indicators of planning errors. If we have developed a plan that we cannot carry out without excessive use of willpower, what does this mean? It usually means that we are bad in planning, that we didn’t take into account something critical.
I’ve noticed that being lazy is almost always a sign of a task I don’t need. If you slow down at this moment, and not procrastinate day after day, if you just think a little deeper, suddenly there will be another, much faster and more pleasant way to the same goal.
And, if we go further: why even turn on your willpower unnecessarily, if you can go in a roundabout way? Why feel pain where you could do without it?
We should not limit signals from the actual world to what we can measure. Our feelings are no less, and often a more important indicator, since the major obstacle to the achievement of our goals is, in most cases, our inner selves because of our beliefs, delusions, habits and internal barriers.
Our speed of evolution will depend entirely on how well we learn how to “read” ourselves and find the right approaches to overcome internal difficulties. It’s not enough to say to yourself: “Don’t be lazy!” You need to try different options until you find one that works without brute force for long periods of time.
We should perceive the analysis of our results as a search for “keys” to oneself, which will open a treasure chest with all the external metrics we are interested in. And, having learned to manage ourselves, it will not be that difficult for us to manage others in the same way.
Reflection is not just a search for problems in one’s logical constructions: for this you don’t need a special mind. Give the baby high-quality and understandable input data and you will get the right decision.
Reflection is about avoiding distortions of those input data because of our biases, entrenched patterns, social norms, and so on. All that prevents us from making the right decisions not because we are “stupid”, but because we see the world in a wrong way.
If suddenly I sound like carrying some kind of philosophical or psychological dregs, just conduct a simple test: ask a friend to argue with your every statement, then tell him about your ideas and plans. Good exercise, though free. The only recommendation here is to choose such a friend you aren’t afraid to lose 🙂
It’s not the questions themselves that are important, and not even the answers to them. The most important thing is to learn deep reflection, which means not just “thinking”, but also “looking at yourself, thinking, from the outside.” It will not come overnight, but I guarantee it if you practice it daily. And the more you practice, the easier it goes.
Here are questions for the analysis stage:
WhAT expected results did we get?
A brief description of what we got because of our work, according to the initial plan.
WhAT unexpected results did we get?
An interesting point, and the deeper the reflection, the more often it comes in handy. If initially I mostly skipped it, then recently this is where the major action happens.
Was my diagnosis correct?
“Yes”, or a detailed “no” with full disclosure of the reasons for our errors in diagnostics.
Was my plan correct?
“Yes”, or a detailed “no” with full disclosure of the reasons for our errors in planning. Here we must focus on trying to learn how to develop more realistic plans.
Was my execution of the plan correct?
Here I often reflect about what I could do differently next time.
You should also pay attention to the “bingo effect”: when repeatedly we have a clear “yes” on all the previous three questions and there are no unexpected results of your work, what can this mean? Yeah, we have already discussed this a little earlier, in the section “avoiding feedback from the actual world”.
Reflection on content
“Content” is our business. If we bake pies, then we can estimate the degree of our progress towards the level of the Michelin star.
Reflection on the process
“Process” here means the degree to which we follow the methodology. Here we gradually make our own implementation better and better.
Reflection on feelings
A very important point, I recommend dwelling on it more. Here you can describe your laziness, procrastination, your attitude to tasks and problems during the process.
Conclusions from reflection
This is not a diary of a 12-year-old girl, but a tool for increasing efficiency in business. We must make some conclusions for the future: from finding easier ways to organizing your working time differently.
What did we get for the next cycle?
Here we get ideas of what to do next. But after writing all the ideas, take a break before starting the next cycle. Better to let your brain “digest” additional facts overnight.
The next morning both tasks and your attitude may change. It’s easy to make plans for “tomorrow’s self”, because this person does not exist. For “myself today” plans turn out to be completely different 🙂
To be continued…