Reflection/Time Off and Organisational Effectiveness-Hug and Nudge

Hug and Nudge-Two Answers to One Question

(Vol VI)

Sometimes a warm hug is the answer to our question 
and sometimes a gentle nudge is the answer.

'Hug and Nudge' is a fortnightly column with two different perspectives from two different continents and cultures on the same question in personal development area viz. 
Jennifer Sertl (based in New York, USA) and
Dr Amit Nagpal (based in New Delhi, India).

Question-How does reflection improve the performance of an organization? 

A Great Question by Dr Prashant Gupta, Pathologist,

Jennifer Sertl's Answer

“Reflection” in a vacuum can be dangerous. I’d like to frame this question in a bigger context. What does your organization need in order to see and interpret all the macro shifts while ensuring that choices that are made at tactical level are made with the highest level intelligence possible? The bridge between strategy and execution is one that most organizations desire more than anything to build. I don’t have a silver bullet for you or your business. I have a belief system that I hope can pivot you, your actions, your thinking, and ultimately your strategy. 

The belief system that I have is that your personal competitive advantage is the way you see the macro and how you choose to articulate your life experience. 

All of our choices are made at the micro-level by our sensory perception and our interpretation of that information. If you want to have a more accurate read on the macro - getting feedback, challenging your mental models and strengthening of a few core mental muscles is required. The mental muscles I advocate that you strengthen both personally and organizationally are resilience, responsiveness and reflection. 

I recommend you read an earlier post (via @ogunte) I wrote explaining how I arrived at this definition of agility. 

As I zoom in on “reflection” by design - I think of your ability to build capacity for deep-thinking and pattern-recognition as vital. The core competencies of which I name introspection, sense-making, insight, and foresight. No one would disagree that in the age of insight & information these are all vital. Yet, when I look at people’s learning plans, personal capacity designs and P & L statements - I rarely see it included. Our true values are seen in where we spend our time and money. Many are saying they value reflection, but when it comes to the proof, ….? 

To reinforce the gap, read one of my favorite posts from friend Cameron Norman (aka @cdnorman) 

We all know about the P & L of business performance. As an executive coach a while back, I took a sample group of leaders through an exercise where all meetings & scheduled appointments were put into a framework. On the left hand side you can see that most of the time and energy was put into fire fighting or running the business- very tactically. I don’t think these calendars are better or worse than most. I feel this is a fair sampling of typical business today. My question is, how will one create innovation and new solutions if there is no strategic time allowed in which to consider how to take the customer/vendor feedback which is now synchronous into account? Strategy is not learning time. It is time to reflect, to think, time to organize- what is already there. That for me is what reflection is. Open space for open space. Not many businesses are designing for the theory of constraints so businesses are often making promises they have no internal capacity to fulfill. (I just want to interject how much I miss Eliyahu Goldratt)

I hope people who read the most recent WSJ article The Trouble with Tinkering Time 

are not misled. You cannot plug and play one company’s solution to your own strategy. You have to consider what is true and relevant in your own context. Cross-training and cross-projecting have a purpose and it needs to support the process of gaining multiple perspectives. However, without time to consider the patterns and build scenarios, the potential learning may not occur. Exposure does not ensure integration. As you can see from the graph on the right side, I believe that in order to have innovation to occur, you need to have down time. After all, an idea needs stillness to land. You have to have capacity to put all that great customer/vendor feedback into meaningful solutions. 

The founders of Global Business Network including Napier Collyns, Steward Brand, Peter Swartz have done a tremendous amount to support and teach scenario planning and strengthen the foresight skills. They came from Shell ( @shell). As I was preparing this post, I took a deep dive into how Shell is currently training their upcoming leaders and found that they are actually teaching meditation as a strategic imperative 

If you think you are adding value by multi-tasking and by being sleep deprived, I’d like you to reconsider. Here are two business cases that would say that designed reflection would allow you to add more value: 

There are many ways to practice “open space” and “reflection” in your life and in your business. It is urgent in a time where the macro is moving so fast that you need designed time for reflection. You need to hear your own thoughts and find your center to make wise, intelligent decisions. 

In pursuit of reflection by design, 

Brief Profile
Beacon of hope. Purveyor of discipline.
Global Citizen. Transleader.
Coach. Facilitator.
Co-Author- Strategy, Leadership & the Soul and Founder of Agility3R.

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Find out more about Jennifer's works here:-

Dr Amit Nagpal's Answer

"The Mind has many ideas and the beliefs are strong.
The Soul reflects and often finds them to be wrong."

Reflection leads to wisdom and wisdom lies in reflection. If you have grasped (or known) this simple point, then there is no need to read further. If not, let us get deeper. 

The wiser the leadership, the greater the organisation. The micro (individual) and the macro (organisation) are interwoven in complex ways. The organisation is interwoven with its external environment in even more complex ways. Analytical tools can take us upto a certain point only. The organisations need to create a culture of reflection, even if it is just few minutes a day. Here is an interesting TED talk which proves the point. Interestingly it was shared by Ms Sulina Menon, one of the top Advertising Consultants in Delhi, whom I met three days before writing this post. (Though Stefan Sagmeister talks of longer time offs to boost creativity and innovation, the smaller time offs will be useful for smaller innovations and wiser decisions).

      The Case of El Bulli
As described on, “In 2006, after many years as number 2, El Bulli moved to the top spot in Restaurant magazine's list of best restaurants in the world. In keeping with the creative goals of El Bulli, the restaurant closes for six month each year during which time Adria travels for inspiration and performs experiments and perfects recipes in his culinary lab, El Taller. Ferran Adria, is still a young man (44), and we can expect to see many more great things from him. They will most undoubtedly be unexpected yet wonderful things.” 

If only we had the wisdom to take the right action, half of the problems we have, would not have been created in the first place and the rest we would be able to resolve successfully. You might be thinking that in this world with a mad race all around, how can we reflect and develop wisdom? According to Confucius, one of the wisest people in world history, we can develop wisdom by reflection (which is the noblest and hence the best), by imitation (which is easiest) and by experience (which is most difficult and makes us bitter). 

Leaders have to constantly take tough decisions, decisions in new areas and decisions at the drop of a hat in emergencies at times. Often after taking a decision, we have a self doubt (called cognitive dissonance in management), whether we have taken the right decision or not. How do we take wise decisions which minimize the self doubt, which are quick yet right and appropriate to the situation? How do we reflect (as Confucius says) to take the noblest decisions which we do not regret and feel proud of? Reflection can be in the form of formal or informal meditation.

A wise leader will also work on developing the wisdom of his subordinates to get the best results out of them. As Benjamin Disraeli says, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” 

Here are some related posts, on the impact of reflection and listening to inner voice on alertness and intuition, I would recommend to those who want to go even deeper. 

Look within and Listen to the Inner Voice 

Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head– Euripides 

Brief Profile

Dr Amit Nagpal is a Personal Branding Consultant and Mega Success Coach. He is based in New Delhi, India and specializes in personal branding with a holistic touch. His philosophy is, "Enlarge as a Human Being, Excel as a Social Media Being and Evolve as a Personal Brand"

To know more about Dr Nagpal, visit

Related Posts
Hug and Nudge (Vol 1)
Hug and Nudge (Vol II)
Hug and Nudge (Vol III)
Hug and Nudge (Vol IV)
Hug and Nudge (Vol V)
3R for Organizational Growth and 3E for Personal Growth 


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