Self-Reflection Can Strengthen Complex Systems

Reflection is the act of purposeful learning. With practice we can learn how to learn from experiences in our work and our lives. This requires us to be curious and inquisitive about our experiences and actions, as well as the feedback we receive from others.

Looking back allows us to identify and expand upon what really matters, because we receive ideas on how to move forward in a way that better serves our greater purpose.

And, as acting agents within Complex Adaptive Systems, we need to recognize that communication, feedback, and reflection are all crucial to keeping systems alive. "Feedback shapes how change happens". Together, we can practice the art of reflection and find deeper connection through exploring the past.

The ways in which the agents in a system connect and relate to one another is critical to the survival of the system.
— Steve Kaisler

Here are some questions we should ask ourselves:

How did we spend our time and our money?

What and who influenced us  (a customer, a department, a book, an advisor, a competitor, the economy, or worry, fear, creativity, inspiration…)?

And ultimately, are we in alignment with what really matters?

By seeking involvement and advice from others while approaching this reflective process, we come to identify assumptions and conclusions with less bias. Collaboration helps shield us from the lens of our mental models. Coworkers, family members, or close friends ultimately strengthen your reflective process by providing a variety of feedback, which can identify common patterns of behavior. 

Our human systems are constantly evolving, we can learn from change, better predict likely changes in the future, and prepare for them accordingly. But, this is only possible when we take the time to reflect, learn, and recognize patterns.

So, challenge yourself and your networks to engage in reflection, because everyone, including the system itself, will walk away stronger from it. 

Everyone in a complex system has a slightly different interpretation. The more interpretations we gather, the easier it becomes to gain a sense of the whole
— Margaret J. Wheatley

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