The Curious Coach Podcast

Episode 094:
Mini: Inner Scientist

This week’s episode is about unleashing your inner scientist to move from simply reflecting to forming theories, creating experiments and having new experiences…. otherwise known as Kolb’s experiential learning theory! 

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Video Version

Audio Version


Hi there and welcome to this week’s mini episode of The Curious Coach Podcast.  This week’s challenge to about creating your own experiment by channelling your inner scientist. 

Let me explain what I mean.  In some ways, we all reflect on past events and feelings.  Some do it more deliberately through daily journaling, or regular periods of reflection.  Others might do it when after some major event happens that rocks our world – such as a bereavement, redundancy, separation or such like.  Some might even move into ruminating on past failure or things that didn’t quite go according to plan. 

And when we think of how we learn.  Being reflective and reflecting on what’s happened, is a really important step in that process of learning.  However, it’s only one of a number of steps.   If we only ever reflect, then we’re not really learning. 

Whilst there’s many models covering how we as adults learn, one of the most popular ones is Kolb’s experiential learning theory.   It was developed by David Kolb back in 1984.  And it has four steps laid out in a never-ending circle.

It starts with a concrete experience.  Something happens and we experience it.  The next step is that reflective observation where we reflect on the experience and ideally, reflect on it from multiple perspectives.    Now, this is we really start to channel our inner scientist.  The next step is to use our reflections to integrate those observations around the experience to create theories or as Kolb calls it, abstract conceptualizations.   Finally, with those theories, we move into the final step in the loop – active experimentation.  This step causes use to do something different so that we might get a different experience next time around.   With that experiment, we’ll then move back to the start of the loop by having a new concrete experience, and then the process repeats.

So my challenge for you this week, is to be consciously aware of applying kolb’s experiential learning theory and deliberately move from reflecting about an experience, to forming a theory, creating an experiment and having a new experience. Be deliberate about it and see what happens.  

Whilst this might sound quite challenging.  One suggestion is to take one experience you have had, and focus solely on it.   For example, it might an interaction with your boss or a team member or family member.  What’s your reflection about that experience.   Then, what are your theories around what worked or didn’t work.  And from those theories, how can you experiment to do more of what works and less of what didn’t work? And then, notice the new experience that happens as a result.

That’s it for this week and as always I’d love to hear how you got on, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch, either leaving a comment below this video on LinkedIn, or by dropping me an email to [email protected] Happy experimenting and until next time, stay curious!