In this short paper the author looks at the importance of development institutions providing staff with opportunities for experiential learning and reflection. The prevailing culture tends to be long hours, over-commitment and intensive activity. Even annual retreats are often overloaded, with little or no time allowed for genuine reflection. The focus is alway action-orientated, with no space for learning. The author argues that self critical reflection and respecting the self are a starting point for transforming practice and performance and cites a report from a South African NGO that states not to allow time for this may result in ôdoing things to the poor that are inappropriate, even destructiveö. The paper ends with a note of caution not to swing too far the other way: time spent on reflection and learning should be optimised, not maximised.
International Institute for Environment and Development