Open-access content Tuesday 3rd May 2011
I‘ve been reflecting on opportunities for professional development at the recent Th!nkFM conference and at the forthcoming Facilities Show, says Stephen Bennett, strategy director at the BIFM.
3 May 2011
I‘ve been reflecting on opportunities for professional development at the recent Th!nkFM conference and at the forthcoming Facilities Show. The use of poetry at the conference caught my ear and started a line of thinking about mind-setting, comparison and contradiction in reflective practice.
Mind-setting through mediums such as poetry can help to change our practice whatever our role. A line from The Calf-Path by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911) provides a reminder that change is possible, and current ways of working are sometimes based on no more than mindless routine: “For men are prone to go it blind/Along the calf-paths of the mind”. Indeed, an alternative concept to mind-setting is mindfulness, which can have immense value. Mindfulness can be defined as being able to observe when emotions and thoughts become active in the brain. This is one reason for seeking to master our minds. The concept of mindfulness can be extended to knowing oneself and knowing others, both people and ideas, in order to be successful. Indeed, taking responsibility as a human being, whether for our own professional development or something else in life, can be seen as a state of mind.
There is a rich variety of interpretations of what may constitute reflection and comparison. However, the key stages in the reflective process are a continuous loop of planning, acting, dealing with evidence, and reflecting; it’s about both ideas and action. Distinguishing reflection-in-action from reflection-on-action is important as it differentiates knowing-in-action from retrospective stopping and thinking. Reflection can be a form of single loop learning, which is relatively routine, or double loop learning that is more complex and future oriented. Reflection can be seen as fundamentally about comparison with one’s own experience and what others think, either through conversation or through written information. Consequently it’s partly a social process. Some would argue that comparison is a fundamental way of thinking. Comparisons are about looking for similarities and differences, which may lead to possibilities for change.
Looking for contradiction can provide the basis of a reflexive strategy. Contradictions are typically tensions between views of the world. Contradiction may lead to conflict, uncertainty or innovation. Some advocate turning one’s back on the extremes of two opposed positions and overwhelming them with compromise, although transcending them is preferable. Contradiction and conflict can result in feeling uncomfortable. However, this can be beneficial if a supra-rational approach is taken, where the rational and other facets of our being are brought together.
The process of reflection and action are a sound basis for professional development. This is vital for members, volunteers and staff, and for the BIFM in order to further the aim of professionalising the FM industry and itself as an institute.