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APPENDIX B: The Ladder of Reflection > Using the Ladder of Reflection to Observ...

Using the Ladder of Reflection to Observe and Map Interactions

Whenever you map interactions, you need some way of ensuring (1) that you're not deluding yourself and (2) that people can use the map to understand and change the pattern it captures. You can use the ladder in Figure B.1 to reflect on interactions, starting with what people are actually saying and doing and ending with your conclusions about what it all means.

By reflecting on interactions a step at a time, you're much less likely to jump to premature conclusions and much more likely to see gaps in your views or to see alternative interpretations, especially when you reflect with other people who are also taking it a step at a time.

Figure B.1 The Ladder of Reflection.


For the purpose of mapping, I've given my ladder five rungs: select, describe, explain, predict, and evaluate.2 The first two steps include our observations, the last three our conclusions. I've put all three conclusion rungs in gray as a reminder to stop and take a closer look before proceeding, because this is where people get into the most trouble, especially if they can't climb back down the ladder to say how they moved from the bottom to the top. Unable to say what leads to their conclusions, they don't have a leg (or a ladder) to stand on.


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