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Reflection Processes

Who is this for: Programme leaders, people supporting programme design process, people guiding project processes 

When to use reflection processes: Working on a project with a lot of uncertainty or emergent processes; checking in on effectiveness of process or direction of outcomes; looking back on process or results at the end of a project. 

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What does reflection involve?

Reflection involves reviewing past events, processes, and results, considering their meaning, and drawing conclusions about any changes required. It can be:

  • A brief process, for instance run in 10 minutes at the end of a workshop session
  • A simple stand-alone activity, such as a 30 to 90 minute session to reflect on a workshop or project 
  • A more involved process, such as a one day workshop to reflect on the learnings from a large, multi-year programme.

How can a reflection session be run?

There are many ways to run a reflection session, but several key considerations: 

  • What are you wanting to reflect on? Is this process, content, or both?  
  • What timeframe do you want to cover in the reflection? Will it be a single event (e.g. a workshop or field day) or a longer project? 
  • Who are you reflecting with? You may take a different approach if you are reflecting with workshop participants at the end of the workshop rather than reflecting with your workshop planning team on the event. 
  • What approach would best suit your purposes? Possible approaches could include ORID (looking at the facts of what happened, how it felt, what it meant, and what decisions can be made) and ‘What, So What, Now What?’ Have a look at an explanation of the ORID process and some example questions for review meetings. If you want to do more with the ORID approach, you can find additional details in the Reflexive Monitoring Toolbox.

Once you’ve clarified these points and found or developed relevant questions for your purpose, you’ll need to run the session. This could be done online, using an online whiteboard tool or powerpoint slides, or in person, using post-it notes or a whiteboard. Either way, you’ll need to consider: 

  • Will everyone write down their reflections and explain these to the group, or will they share these verbally while you or a scribe records their thoughts? 
  • How much time do your participants need to think about these questions before answering? If they first see these in the workshop, you may like to give them 1-2 minutes to reflect on the questions before they answer. However, some people may like more time to think and benefit from being given the questions ahead of time. 
  • Will you also add your own thoughts, or just record those of the others in the group? If you are adding your own thoughts, it may be best to do this after everyone else has given their thoughts on the question, to help keep the conversation open. 

Now you’ve completed your reflection, you’ll need to do something with it. Possible options include: 

  • Taking photos of post-it notes and typing these up 
  • Compiling notes on a virtual whiteboard or powerpoint into a Word document 
  • Clustering ideas together into larger themes 
  • Summarising the key thoughts from the reflection 
  • Working out specific steps that can be taken to implement key learnings and decisions from the reflection.