The experiential learning theory developed by David A. Kolb takes its roots in the works of Jean Piaget, John Dewey, Carl G. Jung, Kurt Lewin, Paulo Freire, and William James.
Roots that allowed to establish experience at the center or learning and valued subjective experience.
Consequently, experience has become the first step in Kolb’s learning cycle. It is also the step into which previous learning is integrated.
The second step in the cycle is based on reflection. Which is a step easily overlooked in today’s organizational life.
It’s the step that feels closest to “doing nothing”. Reflection can happen when relating observations to others at the coffee machine, may happen while walking around or just by sitting and reflecting on the experience. Reflecting is a process that reviews how the experience felt and looked like. It’s a step that is more about becoming able to put words on the experience than about judging the experience. It is more about seeing what the experience was than about reaching conclusions. It is closer to describing the experience than to think about it.
Reflection is essential for the learning process. It establishes the link between the experience itself and the thoughts one might develop from that experience. Without the description of the experience and words defining the experience, there is nothing available to access the subjective experience as it was in the here and now.
Instead what is being used is past subjective experiences. Which leads to the usage of biases or other forms of prejudices. It makes the history of experience a collection of shortcuts.