What is Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle? The Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle In A Nutshell

Gibbs’ reflective cycle was developed by Dr. Graham Gibbs in 1988 – a research leader in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Huddersfield. Gibbs’ reflective cycle is a framework giving structure to the process of learning from experience through six stages: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusions, and action plan.

Understanding Gibbs’ reflective cycle

In his work entitled Learning by Doing, A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods, Gibbs noted that it was

not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting upon this experience it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost. It is from the feelings and thoughts emerging from this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated and it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively.

Fundamentally, Gibbs’ reflective cycle supports experiential learning through a structured debriefing process.

Experiential learning is simply the process of learning by experience, but it’s worth noting that the technique also considers that one’s education and work also impact the way they learn and understand new knowledge.

The nature of the framework as a cycle means it can be used for continuous improvement of repeated experiences, enabling the practitioner to learn and plan based on things that went well and others that did not.

With that in mind, the cycle can also be used to reflect on singular, standalone experiences unlikely to be repeated.

Whether by accident or by design, Gibbs’ reflective cycle has been an influential force in teacher development programs and also across a variety of different health professions.

In truth, however, the cycle is useful for any practitioner who finds themselves studying, practicing, or teaching the skills of critical reflection.

Gibbs’ reflective cycle advantages and disadvantages


Learning can happen both in structured and unstructured ways.

At the business level, having a framework like Gibbs’ reflective cycle can be extremely helpful as a review process for individuals within the organizations.

It’s therefore critical, for the framework to work, to follow its steps, from description to action plan.

Gibb’s reflective cycle structures the process of learning from experience through six stages: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusions, and action plan, thus enabling anyone within an organization to assess what happened and how to improve.

In that respect, this framework helps individuals within organizations to develop a better understanding of their capabilities as they move to a structured way to assess any situation by first analyzing it objectively.

And only after looking at it from an emotional standpoint.

The analysis and action plan make it possible to improve and become way more balanced in assessing business situations moving forward.

In that respect, Gibbs’ reflective cycle is a simple to implement model, with clear and structured steps that can help improve professionally.


For Gibbs’ reflective model to work, it needs to be done objectively, and there needs to be a sincere analysis of the situation at hand by the person using it.

A superficial assessment of the situation and a lack of judgment about what happened can make the framework useless.

Indeed, especially in the analysis part, it’s critical to frame the event as objectively as possible, making it possible later to assess it from an emotive standpoint.

Only by following the process with an open-minded approach (where you’re ready to get involved in the process) can the model really enable you from a professional standpoint.

The six stages of Gibbs’ reflective cycle

Each of the six stages of Gibbs’ model encourages the individual to reflect on their experiences through questions.

Following is a look at each stage and some of the questions that may result.

1 – Description

In the first stage, the individual has an opportunity to describe the situation in detail.

It’s important to remain objective – feelings, thoughts, emotions, and inferences can be described later.

Individuals should provide a detailed account of what happened, who was involved, and what actions were taken.

The purpose of this initial stage is to provide a clear and objective picture of the experience so that the individual can reflect on and recall the event in more detail.

Some helpful questions include:

  • What happened?
  • Who was present?
  • When and where did it happen?
  • What were the actions of the people involved?
  • What was the outcome?

2 – Feelings

Now is the time to explore feelings or thoughts associated with the event.

To do this, it is important for the individual to look back on their emotional state and any rational thoughts about the situation itself.

The purpose of this stage is primarily to help someone understand the impact of the event on their emotions and how it affected them.

The feelings stage also allows them to derive insights from their emotional responses and identify any underlying problems that require attention.

Some questions to ask in the second stage include:

  • What were you feeling before, during, and after the event?
  • What do you believe other people were thinking or feeling?
  • What do you think about the situation now that some time has passed?

3 – Evaluation

Evaluation means determining the positive and negative aspects of the event – regardless of whether you consider the event to be one or the other. Again, objectivity is key. 

Objectivity enables the individual to make value judgments, which are evaluative statements of how good or bad they believe an idea, action, or situation to be.

Value judgments are often prescriptive in the sense that they reveal how the individual perceives the world via certain attitudes and behaviors.In the third stage, objectivity can also be increased when the individual considers the experiences and perspectives of other people.

Some pointers include:

  • What was good and bad about the experience?
  • What did you contribute to the situation? 
  • Did your actions have a positive or negative impact? Repeat the question to consider the contributions of others.

4 – Analysis

During the analysis stage, you have a chance to understand what happened using theory and context.

This step should comprise the bulk of your reflection and should take into account any insights gleaned from the previous steps.

In the process of analyzing the situation, the individual should always try to make sense of it and distinguish fact from fiction.

It can also be helpful to consider whether their experiences differ from others.

To do this, co-workers and those who can provide quality input can be consulted for assistance.

However, diverse opinion should be balanced with research of the literature and relevant theories to better understand what transpired.

Some helpful questions include:

  • Why did things go well or go badly?
  • How does your experience compare to academic literature, if applicable?
  • Could you have responded differently?
  • Are there theories or models that can help you understand what happened?
  • Are there factors likely to have contributed to a better outcome?

5 – Conclusions

In the fifth stage, conclude what happened by summarising key findings and reflecting on changes that could improve future outcomes. 

When making conclusions, the individual must consider how they will impact them on a personal level.

After which, they can think about what the conclusions mean for their immediate context and then more broadly when others are involved (such as in a team, workplace, or department).

This step should be a natural and intuitive response to the previous steps. It may incorporate questions such as:

  • What did the situation teach you? You can be rather general or more specific.
  • How might the situation have been more positive for all concerned?
  • What skills or competencies are required to handle the situation more effectively?

6 – Action plan

Lastly, an action plan is crafted to detail how you will respond differently to a similar situation in the future. The plan is important in making sure good intentions are backed by action. 

The action plan stage is one of the most important for obvious reasons.

It involves the identification of specific steps that need to be taken to improve a similar future experience or prevent an event from occurring in the future. 

Ultimately, action plans help individuals develop strategies for future improvement and growth.

They can take a proactive (not reactive) approach to their experiences and use them as a tool for personal development.

To get you in the right of mind, consider these questions:

  • What would you do differently when faced with a similar situation? How would your new skills or knowledge be applied?
  • How can you make sure you act differently when faced with a similar situation in the future?
  • How and when will you develop the required skills?

Gibbs’ reflective cycle example – getting a promotion

Imagine that you have recently been promoted to a regional management position for a supermarket chain.

As part of your new role, you are required to oversee multiple store managers ensure sales in your region meet stated targets.

1 – Description

Now, imagine it is your first day on the job and you drive out to visit your first store.

You have difficulty imposing yourself on the manager of the store, despite the fact he is a subordinate.

The matter is exacerbated by the presence of a senior manager, your direct superior, who is spending the day with you to ensure a seamless transition and is watching your every move.

Customers also look on as the discussion, which concerns a promotional display at the front of the store, becomes heated.

The disagreement causes the store manager to walk away while you are expressing your point of view.

This is the description stage of Gibbs’ reflective cycle. Now, let’s take a look at the others.

2 – Feelings

As with most people who start in a new position, you were likely nervous, anxious, or uncertain about what would happen on your first day.

You may also have been insecure about your authority and fearful that it may be challenged by a subordinate who was used to the previous, more lenient regional manager. 

During the event, you felt a mixture of shame and embarrassment as the altercation was playing out in front of customers.

You were also worried that your direct supervisor would start to second-guess his decision to promote you.

After the event, most of these emotions have dulled somewhat and you start to realize that the actions of the store manager do not necessarily reflect your ability to lead others.

3 – Evaluations

The good part of this experience was that you at least attempted to assert your authority about the promotional display.

While it was received poorly by the store manager, he must understand that this will be the nature of our relationship moving forward.

Furthermore, it must be remembered that many employees resistant to change react with negative emotions.

The bad part of this experience was the fact that the whole experience had to play out in public.

Our customers are our number one priority and it would have been preferable for the discussion to be held in private.

My failed attempt to move to the discussion elsewhere may have contributed to the situation.

4 – Analysis

On analysis, the situation occurred because a store manager who was accustomed to the status quo reacted badly to a change in management approach.

The presence of the senior manager in the store may have also worsened the fear and distrust that often accompanies change.

Multiple change management frameworks confirm this to be a common occurrence.

Nevertheless, maybe you could have responded differently by disarming the store manager in some way.

You could have smiled more or let him take you on a tour of the store and left the heavy-handed managerial directives for another day.

5 – Conclusions

The situation taught you that building relationships with subordinates is as important as it is with friends, family, superiors, and colleagues.

Some subordinates – particularly those with some degree of seniority themselves – will be reluctant to obey your commands point-blank.

The situation could have been handled better by easing into the transition.

Perhaps you could have visited the store beforehand and held an informal lunch with the store manager so that the both of you could get to know each other.

6 – Action plan

Given that you have 16 stores under your supervision, you realize the importance of developing an action plan to avoid a potential repeat of the situation.

As part of this plan, you undertake extra company training on management techniques and learn power phrases that can be used to disarm verbal aggression. 

You also learn how to better read someone’s body language and build rapport with your store managers.

This is seen as a more beneficial alternative than talking about business objectives right away and potentially alienating them forever.

If a situation does arise in the future, you know that these techniques and training will help you neutralize demonstrative behavior and avoid tensions escalating.

Gibbs’ reflective cycle example – startup accelerator

1 – Description

Suppose that an entrepreneur is part of a start-up accelerator and, at the culmination of their three months with the company, has the opportunity to pitch their business idea to a room full of attentive investors.

The entrepreneur wants to start a D2C cake business and is in the process of refining their business model and pitch in time for the presentation.

2 – Feelings

When the individual first joined the accelerator, they were excited, enthusiastic, and optimistic about the future.

As the entrepreneur started to delve into the details of running a business, however, they realized that much more work was required to understand market trends, identify the main competitors, and provide cost estimates.

Cost estimates were the most significant concern.

The entrepreneur had hoped to cost a brick-and-mortar store in a desirable location for the business plan, but the preliminary cost for a store in several different areas was deemed prohibitive.

Cost estimates

Feeling somewhat dejected, the entrepreneur reverted to a pop-up stall that could be moved at will.

However, when she rang the city council about a mobile food vendor permit, they advised her that the cost was based on the number of square meters the stall occupied.

Having not purchased one yet, she became more frustrated.

Eventually, the entrepreneur joined a social media group for food vendors in her city and obtained cost estimates for several different sizes from others.

She then fed this data into the business plan and researched the average attendance at various city events to estimate her potential target audience.

While the development of a business plan has been stressful and at times bewildering, the entrepreneur starts to feel more confident in her ability to run a successful cake business without the future support of the accelerator.

Ultimately, she pitches to the room full of attentive investors and one decides to invest in her company based on her concise and accurate business plan and demonstrated initiative.

3 – Evaluation

In the evaluation phase, the now business owner felt that her idea of questioning others in the same industry was rather effective.

Most were happy to provide constructive feedback – despite the fact that some would become future competitors.

The fact that she was able to attract the attention of an investor is an obvious plus.

So what was bad about the experience?

For one, despite being surrounded by qualified support, she could have asked for help earlier to avoid stress later on.

She was also frustrated at the city council’s perceived disinterest in providing a quote.

4 – Analysis

In the analysis phase, the entrepreneur concludes that some things went wrong initially because of her lack of organization and her inability to ask for help.

In the case of the latter, she didn’t know what she didn’t know about small business and this hindered her progress. 

This ignorance, if you will, has been described and studied extensively in the literature.

Developed by management trainer Martin Broadwell, the four stages of competence is a framework that describes the process of an incompetent person transitioning to competence in a certain skill or topic.

5 – Conclusion

To conclude, the entrepreneur ascertains that the situation taught her to be patient, resilient, and to leave her ego at the door when considering whether to ask for help.

The problem with the city council quote, which involved a somewhat rude and terse conversation, could have been improved if she was aware of how the council quoted beforehand.

Having said that, the entrepreneur does acknowledge that her stress level was high before the call was made.

6 – Action plan

To better deal with a similar situation in the future, the cake entrepreneur will use her awareness of the link between poor preparation and stress.

In other words, if she is better prepared, she will not be as stressed when dealing with others. 

Reasoning that there is much more she doesn’t know about small business, she also decides to enroll in a part-time course and join her city’s local business association.

Lastly, the entrepreneur researches ways to be more comfortable with asking for assistance. As part of her action plan, she writes the following four pointers:

  1. Help others before asking for help.
  2. Know what you want to ask before asking. 
  3. Ensure the question is SMART: specific, meaningful, action-oriented, real, and time-sensitive. 
  4. Never assume to know what or who people know.

Gibbs’ reflective cycle – HR staff member

In this example, an HR staff member uses Gibbs’ reflective cycle to reflect on the process of rewarding or recognizing employees from different seniority levels.

1 – Description

The process starts with the employee researching employee rewards and the factors that motivate them to perform. The individual is responsible for developing incentive programs for both junior employees and senior executives.

Based on their research, they determine that each cohort needs to be rewarded in a different way to increase motivation.

For junior employees, rewards should be associated with exemplary performance, while senior executives tend to prefer bonds, shares, and other incentives that encourage them to remain with the company.

2 – Feelings

In the second phase, the HR employee considers how the feelings toward a particular reward influence how it is viewed. 

For junior employees, the employee contends that a dearness allowance is a strong motivator. The allowance, which is built into an employee’s salary to offset inflationary cost-of-living pressures, is one way for these employees to feel valued and appreciated.

For senior executives, the reward of part ownership of the company makes them feel proud of their contributions to building a business over the long term. 

3 – Evaluation

This was the first time the HR manager took an active, in-depth look at employee incentivization. In the past, the firm had instructed HR to reward employees with extra financial compensation irrespective of their seniority level.

In the evaluation phase, the manager deduces that employee compensation is not something the company can take lightly moving forward.

She also determines that her initiative to research attractive compensation for different cohorts will have a positive impact on the company’s productivity and culture.

Within reason, however, the HR department must listen to the contributions and suggestions of employees and then act on them – particularly if the current remuneration system is not meeting an employee’s needs.

4 – Analysis

In the literature, countless models and theories have been devised to explain sources of motivation in the workforce.

Some posit that motivation can be increased via certain leadership styles, while others focus on company policies, supervisor support, interpersonal relationships, and the idea of reciprocity.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, however, around 85% of workers said compensation was important or very important to their job satisfaction.

What’s more, 92% said the presence of benefits could be the difference between choosing one employer over another.

For senior executives who are paid well, the most effective benefits are those that have monetary value but do not necessarily involve a direct payment of cash. These include stock options, titles, and health care coverage.

Junior employees are also likely to value health care coverage and access to schemes such as paid parental leave. But since they are paid less than their senior counterparts, bonuses and raises are still valued the most. 

These extra funds are used to pay for basic needs such as food, shelter, and safety in an inflationary environment, while non-monetary benefits for executives fulfill needs related to self-esteem and self-actualization.

The needs of both junior and senior employees are described in detail by Maslow in his hierarchical pyramid. 

5 – Conclusion and action plan

Moving forward, the HR manager strongly recommends that this targeted approach to employee reward and recognition be written into company procedures.

Under the proviso that employee performance is maintained, it is imperative to routinely appraise compensation schemes and develop a tailored approach for each of the employee cohorts.

This strategy may be more expensive than alternatives, but the HR manager concludes by remarking that a twelve-month trial period may be prudent to see whether the cost is offset by more motivated and productive employees.

Gibbs’ reflective cycle – Tesco

In 2013, British supermarket chain Tesco was faced with a major scandal after horse meat was detected in its beef burger products.

The scandal caused a significant drop in sales and negatively impacted consumer confidence in the Tesco brand. Let’s explain how the incident played out and how the company responded with a hypothetical Gibbs’ reflective cycle.


Tens of millions of burger and related beef products with withdrawn from shelves across Europe in the wake of the scandal. Some of the products – including Tesco’s own brand burgers – contained up to 29% horse meat.

The outcome of the tainted beef was a decrease in consumer confidence in meat products. One report found that 60% of consumers had altered their shopping habits, with 30% buying less red meat overall and 24% choosing vegetarian options.


Tesco was shocked, disappointed, and concerned for the company’s reputation initially. The company ran prominent ads in several newspapers where it acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and offered a full refund.

In one ad, the company’s remorse was evident: “We will work harder than ever with all our suppliers to make sure this never happens again.


For Tesco, the negative aspects of the event were a detrimental impact on brand image and consumer confidence. Consumers were economic victims because they paid for a product they did not receive. But horse meat also poses a health risk because it is often tainted with horse-specific pharmaceuticals that are banned from human consumption.

While there were few positives to take from the scandal, it did force the company to evaluate its supply chain practices. Then-CEO Philip Clarke later noted at the Institute for Global Food Security that “This has been a wake-up call for us all, and I see it being a pivotal moment for our industry.


It was later concluded that Tesco’s somewhat opaque supply chain was a primary contributor to the problem. Horse meat was of course labeled as beef, but identifying the point at which the beef became tainted proved difficult. 

The factory that supplied Tesco with its private-label brand of beef burgers, for example, used ingredients from up to 40 different suppliers and the exact mix could vary every 30 minutes. Eventually, it was discovered that meat testing positive for horse DNA originated from a factory near the border with Ireland. 

The company that operated the factory processed meat for pet food and also sourced product from a Dutch businessman who was known to cut beef with horse meat. It also emerged that workers from Tesco’s Polish suppliers mixed horsemeat with defrosted beef that was sometimes so old it had turned green.


The situation taught Costco that transparency is key in its supply chains and relationships with suppliers. While the company claimed it had been a victim of fraud, it nevertheless admitted that its supply chain needed to be modernized and made more transparent to reflect the increased global demand for meat products.

Action plan

Tesco undertook several corrective measures. It hired a senior executive from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) to restore consumer confidence in its products and improve the company’s relationship with farmers and suppliers. What’s more, the company committed to sourcing more of its meat from British suppliers wherever possible.

Clarke also announced at an NFU conference that he wanted to introduce a more transparent supply chain. This would entail a more comprehensive system of DNA testing that he believed would set a new standard for all supermarkets.

Separate from Tesco’s action plan was a report published by the governmental Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. The report made several recommendations, chief among which was that consumer food safety and protection from food-related crime be made a top priority. The governmental body also called for more data-sharing and the development of effective crises and contingency plans.

Gibbs’ reflective cycle vs. Kolb’s Reflective Cycle

American educational theorist David Kolb created the Kolb reflective cycle. In 1984, Kolb created the Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) based on the premise that learning is facilitated by direct experience. In other words, the individual learns through action. The Kolb reflective cycle is a holistic learning and development process based on reflecting active experiences.

Kolb and Gibb’s models are both intended to enable learning through direct experience.

Therefore, enabling individuals to learn based on action.

Whereas Gibbs’ model has five stages of assessing any real-world situation.

Kolb’s model has four stages instead:

  • Concrete experience.
  • Reflective observation.
  • Abstract conceptualization.
  • And active experimentation.

Kolb’s model is way more skewed toward experience-based learning, where active experimentation becomes a critical component of the iterative learning process.

Whereas Gibbs’ model is still based on experience-based learning, yet it provides more of an analytical and structured framework to assess these experiences.

Key takeaways and examples

  • Gibbs’ reflective cycle is a framework giving structure to the process of learning from experience. The framework was developed by Dr. Graham Gibbs in 1988.
  • The cyclical nature of Gibbs’ reflective cycle is best suited to fostering continuous improvement of repeated experiences. However, it can also be used to reflect on standalone experiences.
  • Gibbs’ reflective cycle is based on six stages: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion, and action plan. Each stage encourages self-reflection through the posing of multiple questions.

Types of Organizational Structures

Organizational Structures

Siloed Organizational Structures


In a functional organizational structure, groups and teams are organized based on function. Therefore, this organization follows a top-down structure, where most decision flows from top management to bottom. Thus, the bottom of the organization mostly follows the strategy detailed by the top of the organization.



Open Organizational Structures




In a flat organizational structure, there is little to no middle management between employees and executives. Therefore it reduces the space between employees and executives to enable an effective communication flow within the organization, thus being faster and leaner.

How do you write a Gibbs reflective cycle?

Who is Gibbs reflective cycle used for?

The framework gives structure to the process of learning from experience through six stages: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusions, and action plan. It’s beneficial as a review process for individuals within the organizations as it helps them better understand their capabilities as they move to a structured way to assess any situation by objectively analyzing it.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Gibbs reflective cycle?

A core advantage is that Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle introduces a structured way to assess the individuals within an organization. A disadvantage is that for it to work, it needs to be done objectively, without prejudice. Otherwise, it becomes useless and detrimental to the team using it.

Connected Learning Frameworks

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

fixed mindset believes their intelligence and talents are fixed traits that cannot be developed. The two mindsets were developed by American psychologist Carol Dweck while studying human motivation. Both mindsets are comprised of conscious and subconscious thought patterns established at a very young age. In adult life, they have profound implications for personal and professional success. Individuals with a growth mindset devote more time and effort to achieving difficult goals and by extension, are less concerned with the opinions or abilities of others. Individuals with a fixed mindset are sensitive to criticism and may be preoccupied with proving their talents to others.

Constructive Feedback

Constructive feedback is supportive in nature and designed to help employees improve or correct their performance or behavior. Note that the intention of such feedback is to achieve a positive outcome for the employee based on comments, advice, or suggestions.

High-Performance Coaching

High-performance coaches work with individuals in personal and professional contexts to enable them to reach their full potential. While these sorts of coaches are commonly associated with sports, it should be noted that the act of coaching is a specific type of behavior that is also useful in business and leadership. 

Training of Trainers

The training of trainers model seeks to engage master instructors in coaching new, less experienced instructors with a particular topic or skill. The training of trainers (ToT) model is a framework used by master instructors to train new instructors, enabling them to subsequently train other people in their organization.

Active Listening

Active listening is the process of listening attentively while someone speaks and displaying understanding through verbal and non-verbal techniques. Active listening is a fundamental part of good communication, fostering a positive connection and building trust between individuals.

Active Recall

Active recall enables the practitioner to remember information by moving it from short-term to long-term memory, where it can be easily retrieved. The technique is also known as active retrieval or practice testing. With active recall, the process is reversed since learning occurs when the student retrieves information from the brain.

Baptism by Fire

The phrase “baptism by fire” originates from the Bible in Matthew 3:11. In Christianity, the phrase was associated with personal trials and tribulations and was also used to describe the martyrdom of an individual. Many years later, it was associated with a soldier going to war for the first time. Here, the baptism was the battle itself.  “Baptism by fire” is a phrase used to describe the process of an employee learning something the hard way with great difficulty. 

Dreyfus Model

The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition was developed by brothers Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1980. The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition is a learning progression framework. It argues that as one learns a new skill via external instruction, they pass through five stages of development: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert.

Kolb Learning Cycle

The Kolb reflective cycle was created by American educational theorist David Kolb. In 1984, Kolb created the Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) based on the premise that learning is facilitated by direct experience. In other words, the individual learns through action. The Kolb reflective cycle is a holistic learning and development process based on the reflection of active experiences.

Method of Loci

The Method of Loci is a mnemonic strategy for memorizing information. The Method of Loci gets its name from the word “loci”, which is the plural of locus – meaning location or place. It is a form of memorization where an individual places information they want to remember along with points of an imaginary journey. By retracing the same route through the journey, the individual can recall the information in a specific order. For this reason, many consider this memory tool a location-based mnemonic.

Experience Curve

The Experience Curve argues that the more experience a business has in manufacturing a product, the more it can lower costs. As a company gains un know-how, it also gains in terms of labor efficiency, technology-driven learning, product efficiency, and shared experience, to reduce the cost per unit as the cumulative volume of production increases.

Feynman Technique

The Feynman Technique is a mental model and strategy for learning something new and committing it to memory. It is often used in exam preparation and for understanding difficult concepts. Physicist Richard Feynman elaborated this method, and it’s a powerful technique to explain anything.

Learning Organization

Learning organizations are those that encourage adaptative and generative learning where employees are motivated to think outside the box to solve problems. While many definitions of a learning organization exist today, author Peter Senge first popularized the term in his book The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organisation during the 1990s.

Forgetting Curve

The forgetting curve was first proposed in 1885 by Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist and pioneer of experimental research into memory.  The forgetting curve illustrates the rate at which information is lost over time if the individual does not make effort to retain it.

Instructor-Led Training

Instructor-led training is a more traditional, top-down, teacher-oriented approach to learning that occurs in online or offline classroom environments. The approach connects instructors with students to encourage discussion and interaction in a group or individual context, with many enjoying ILT over other methods as they can seek direct clarification on a topic from the source.  Instructor-led training (ILT), therefore, encompasses any form of training provided by an instructor in an online or offline classroom setting.

5 Whys Method

The 5 Whys method is an interrogative problem-solving technique that seeks to understand cause-and-effect relationships. At its core, the technique is used to identify the root cause of a problem by asking the question of why five times. This might unlock new ways to think about a problem and therefore devise a creative solution to solve it.

Single-Loop Learning

Single-loop learning was developed by Dr. Chris Argyris, a well-respected author and Harvard Business School professor in the area of metacognitive thinking. He defined single-loop learning as “learning that changes strategies of action (i.e. the how) in ways that leave the values of a theory of action unchanged (i.e. the why).”  Single-loop learning is a learning process where people, groups, or organizations modify their actions based on the difference between expected and actual outcomes.

Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is a technique where individuals review lessons at increasing intervals to memorize information. Spaced repetition is based on the premise that the brain learns more effectively when the individual “spaces out” the learning process. Thus, it can be used as a mnemonic technique to transform short-term memory into long-term memory.

Blended Learning

Blended learning is a broad and imprecise field that makes it difficult to define. However, in most cases, it is considered to be a form of hybrid learning that combines online and offline instructional methods.

VAK Learning


Lessons Learned

The term lessons learned refers to the various experiences project team members have while participating in a project. Lessons are shared in a review session which usually occurs once the project has been completed, with any improvements or best practices incorporated into subsequent projects. 

Post-Mortem Analysis

Post-mortem analyses review projects from start to finish to determine process improvements and ensure that inefficiencies are not repeated in the future. In the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), this process is referred to as “lessons learned”.

Instructor-Led Training

Instructor-led training is a more traditional, top-down, teacher-oriented approach to learning that occurs in online or offline classroom environments. The approach connects instructors with students to encourage discussion and interaction in a group or individual context, with many enjoying ILT over other methods as they can seek direct clarification on a topic from the source.  Instructor-led training (ILT), therefore, encompasses any form of training provided by an instructor in an online or offline classroom setting.

5E Instructional Model

The 5E Instructional Model is a framework for improving teaching practices through discussion, observation, critique, and reflection. Teachers and students move through each phase linearly, but some may need to be repeated or cycled through several times to ensure effective learning. This is a form of inquiry-based learning where students are encouraged to discover information and formulate new insights themselves.

Related Strategy Concepts: Read Next: Mental ModelsBiasesBounded RationalityMandela EffectDunning-Kruger EffectLindy EffectCrowding Out EffectBandwagon EffectDecision-Making Matrix.

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