Stop doing, start thinking

You probably know about the learning cycle, or after action reviews, and when you’re involved in project work, you probably even do them with the team. But do you ever do them on your own?

In an earlier blog, John Borghetti on Leadership, I mentioned that the CEO of Virgin Australia, works through the learning cycle every evening, reviewing the day’s events and how he can ‘do it better’ tomorrow. This is a habit that many good leaders and executives have developed.

A recent study by Giada Di Stafani, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano and Bradley Staats proves that you can increase your performance by 23% this way.

The first part of their study was with students and the second part with adult trainees in the workplace. And here’s what they found:

Just by spending the last 15 minutes of the day reviewing and writing down what they’d learned, the students and the adult trainees performed 23% better than the students and adult trainees who spent the last 15 minutes of the day working.

That’s a pretty good investment of 15 minutes, I’d say! Thinking, not doing. Hmmm.

The researchers believe that by taking the time to reflect and draw conclusions about what they’d learned, and articulating what they’d learned by writing down the key learnings did two things:

  1. It led to a deeper understanding.
  2. It increased their self-confidence.

Both of which, of course, increase performance.

Imagine–improving your performance by 23% by making daily reflection and noting down key learnings a part of your end-of-day routine. The only hard part is getting into the habit!

Giada Di Stefano built the habit by posting a sign on the wall in front of her computer screen that says:

Stop and think!

When she looks at it, she stops to think and reflect on what she’s been doing and what she’s learned.