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Understanding the environment: A systems approach
Understanding the environment: A systems approach

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1.4.3 Observing

This phase focuses on the collection and recording of information that will tell you about the impacts of your action. Although the constraints of verbal communication mean that this phase of the action learning has to be presented after the 'acting' phase, it is in fact a step that occurs at the same time (indeed, any phase can be carried out simultaneously, but I would recommend that when communicating your action learning to others, it is crucial that you divide the process into these distinct steps). In this observation phase, you need to monitor how the complex situation, or the way you perceive it, changed as a result of your action. Of course it is impossible to collect data on all potential measures of performance, especially in situations where your resources are limiting and logistics are difficult. This task will primarily depend on the 'model' of the situation and the resulting actions that you developed during your planning phase. In other words, the predictions (models) you made during the planning phase, of the impacts you will have during your actions, will have determined which data you will observe. However, especially in complex situations, it pays to keep an open mind on unexpected consequences of your actions – things that you did not foresee would happen. Our preconceived expectations sometimes make us blind to unforeseen consequences. The observation phase also includes observing yourself carrying out the plan (you might find that while the desired objective appears to occur, the end does not justify the means) – and you can observe not just the logical 'result' of the situation but also your reactions to it, or the reactions of others.