The Harmony Partnership

The Harmony Partnership (UK) Ltd
Registered Office
c/o KBC Accounting Ltd
17 Vicarage Road
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

Company Number:

VAT Number:

+44 (0)7977 530968


Thinking is the hardest thing to do

Chris Rigby, a Harmony Associate, has been researching the reasons why leadership development interventions so rarely ‘stick’. The importance of reflection in the learning process, as identified by Kholb and others, has been proven by Chris’s research as key to supporting improved decision making. However, often due to resource restraints, longer term management development programmes allowing time for practising and demonstrating the benefits of reflection are almost a thing of the past. To bridge that gap Chris has now developed a series of tools and techniques to support structured and faster reflective practice. The following provides some insight into this vital tool.

“Thinking is the hardest work there is….” Henry Ford

Reflection has long been accepted as a key element in how professionals learn. Unfortunately examples of professionals who engage in the process seriously and regularly remain few and far between. Frequently heard excuses include “I don’t have time”, “it’s a waste of time” or “I’ve got more important things to do?”. These comments illustrate clearly that the process remains misunderstood and potential outcomes (i.e. more effective behavioural choices) poorly valued.

The Downstream 9+1© model emerged from my research into 17 leadership development programmes. It is a tool to help professionals to reflect-on-action quickly and without the need to meet with a colleague or group. Once familiar with the model, individuals can benefit from speedy reflection.
  • Nine questions (each reduced to a key word) are designed to trigger the reflection process
  • Any one of these nine questions, on its own, e.g. “what surprised you about what happened?” the key word shorthand being ‘surprised?’, will instantly shift the thinker into retrospective reflection.
  • Provided that the participant always asks the +1 question (“so what will you do differently next time?”) new insights and perspectives can emerge within seconds.
Louise, a Local Authority Children’s Care Team Manager, said “I was surprised that I actually didn’t want to send the application for another job; I realised I liked the job I had but not the way I was doing it – I needed to work out a way of doing it differently.”

This entry was posted in Management Development

Have a comment on this article? Let us know -