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The Power of Reflection at Work

In a busy business world where everyone wants to increase the performance and productivity of the workforce, we tend to work faster and harder, making ourselves overwhelmed and running after time. A recent study by HEC Paris Professor Giada Di Stefano shows that to stop and think is not a waste of time, and would help us to be 23% more productive.

In the working paper "Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance," the authors Giada Di Stefano of HEC Paris, Francesca Gino and Gary Pisano of Harvard Business School, and Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina show that reflecting on what you've done enables you to do it better next time.

In this latest HEC Insight video, Giada Di Stefano, Professor of Strategy at HEC Paris, presents the results of their research, based on a combination of two laboratory experiments with a field experiment conducted in a large business process outsourcing company in India. Employees who spent the last 15 minutes of each day of their training period writing and reflecting on what they had learned did 23% better in the final training test than other employees. Professor Di Stefano also explains the role of self-efficacy on the finding that people work better if they take time to reflect.

Their results unveil the role of reflection as a powerful mechanism behind learning, thus confirming the words of American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey: “We do not learn from experience…we learn reflecting on experience.”

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