Strategic Management And Strategic Competitiveness


Learning Journal. 

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Course Name [xxx] [Semester] 202?

Learning Journal

Use this template like a recipe to do your journal assignment. Review the Brightspace item “Learning How to Learn: Guidance on Learning Journal Assignments.” Be sure to read the PDFs (embedded links) and watch the short videos (embedded links). Then, follow the italicized instructions in this template to do your journal assignment and write-up in this template your “journal entry” of 2-3 pages under the appropriate learning-by-doing headings. When you are finished, leave the headings but delete the italicized instructions.

Following the “inside-out” philosophy of leading and managing, including the maxim that the effective leader or manager must seek first to improve themselves and their performance in any given work situation, and then within the leader or manager’s “circle of influence” contribute to improvements in the organization and its performance, write up a journal entry below of a theory, concept, idea, principle, practice, or insight from any source in this course that you have acquired, interpreted, and applied (using PDSA) during the period of this assignment (not something you did in the past or something your intend to do in the future).

Spend your time, and allot your space in this journal entry, between the acquire, interpret, and apply stages of learning in the approximate ration of 1:2:4.


Describe briefly and objectively, in your own words, the theory, concept, idea, principle, practice, or insight you have selected from any source anywhere in this course that you can use now to directly benefit your life and/or your work.

Theories and concepts are usually complex, they have many elements, and a structure. Try to identify the central idea, i.e., the central insight, principle, or force driving the concept you have chosen. Focus upon the central idea; think of an archery target with many rings; focus upon the bullseye of the theory, concept, idea, principle, practice, or insight you have selected.

Provide enough depth to convince yourself and the reader that you understand the concept.


Interpret the significance of the theory, concept, idea, principle, practice, or insight to your life and/or work or to your organization:

1) describe how the concept integrates with what you already know.

2) explain how it is relevant to you and/or to your organization, i.e., explain what in the information constitutes signals versus noise at this present time in your experience,

3) reflect upon how it is meaningful to you and to your organization, i.e., ponder the import and implications of these signals to your life and work, and

4) delineate how this information could be useful to you and to your organization, i.e., how it could make a positive difference in your life and/or your work or your organization if you put the information into practice.

Be specific. Illustrate your thoughts with concrete examples.

Be sure to explain WHY you have selected this concept.

Why do you NEED to do to put this concept into action in your life and/or job?

How would using this concept BENEFIT your growth and development?

In what upcoming situation(s), circumstance(s), relationship interaction(s), or opportunities COULD YOU APPLY this concept to great benefit?


Now use the PDSA approach to apply your selected concept. (Briefly review PDSA at this link: PDSA Cycle - The W. Edwards Deming Institute .)

The PDSA cycle is a synthesis of a learning cycle and an improvement cycle. In a conceptual pragmatist theory of knowledge, the PDSA cycle functions as a practical tool for conducting scientific experiments to help us learn what works better in life and work. What is true about the real world tends to work better than what is false. Repeatedly cycling through PDSA is in essence repeatedly running experiments to help us learn how to improve our thinking, living, and working so that we are aligning with what is true and what works. See this short video (7:48) from the W. Edwards Deming Institute: .

This becomes an ongoing, iterative, reinforcing feedback process of learning that shifts our paradigms (mental models) and improves the effectiveness of our living and working in alignment with our paradigms (theories, hypotheses, mental models). See Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Having acquired some new information, and having interpreted its integration, relevance, meaning, and potential usefulness to you, you develop a theory or hypothesis that predicts the hopefully positive results of applying this new information in your life or work. Based upon this explicit or implied theory, you then create a plan for learning-by-doing how to improve something in your life or work. Your plan is a designed experiment.

Then, you do the plan or put the plan into action. This is an experiment to see if your prediction that execution of your plan, based upon your theory, will result in an improvement, i.e., your theory works in the real world and results in an improvement.

Next, you study the outcome of your plan and determine if your experiment worked, i.e., if doing your plan worked out as you anticipated and doing your plan achieved the results you wanted or expected. You should strive to learn from the outcome of this experiment, and this learning should result in any needed improvements in the next iteration of your theory, your plan, or your execution of the plan.

Continuing to learn, you act or take action again on this revised plan—that is, you repeat your revised experiment, you execute your revised plan.

As you begin to consistently get the results you want, you continue the PDSA process so that it becomes a process of practicing this new thought, feeling, or behavior until it becomes a new habit that you have chosen to develop. New habits of thinking, feeling, speaking, and behaving take repeated turns of PDSA over time to develop!

Plan (Develop a Theory or Hypothesis)

List the specific steps of action you will take to put this concept to work in your life and/or job and/or your organization.

Seek to take a solid “baby step” forward in your first application. You can expand and enrich your plan, making it more ambitious, in subsequent iterations of the PDSA cycle. Remember the research we shared in class on the power of taking small steps and succeeding vs. attempting big steps and failing.

Using the research we shared in class on goal-setting theory, follow the S.M.A.R.T. Goals acronym to guide the development of your specific action steps (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound).

Include details on who, what, when, where, how, and why you will put the concept into action.

Do (Experiment to Test the Theory or Hypothesis)

Take action! Implement, execute, or do your plan. Try to follow it carefully, doing all the steps as you envisioned them as far as the reality of experience allows. This will be key to your “learning” from the feedback real-world experience gives you to the operationalizing of your plan.

After you have executed your plan in the real world in real time, i.e., in the present time, describe here in some detail what you did and what happened when you did it. What was the outcome?

This should be the most extensive portion of your journal entry.

Study (Interpret the Results of the Experiment)

Engage in an “After Action Review” of executing your plan.

What was expected to happen?

What actually occurred?

What went well and why?

What can be improved and how?

Actions taken in the real world create ripple effects in the external environment or systems, and the environment or systems external to you always provide a feedback response to your seeing, thinking, feeling, deciding, speaking, and doing from which you can learn and adapt in the next iteration of your PDSA cycles. This is how you engage your autopoietic (self-producing, self-reinventing) nature.

So what did you LEARN from “doing your plan” and from this After Action Review ?

How will you adjust your plan, or your execution of your plan, so that it will go better next time you act on it?

Act (Repeat the Experiment to Confirm Results)

Begin to do your revised or adjusted plan again … and perhaps again.

After doing your adjusted plan, describe the outcome and whether or not the changes had the intended effect. Study the outcome of this second execution, and revise your plan again, if necessary.

How did and how will you repeat the PDSA process over and over again to create a new, reengineered, or improved habit of seeing, thinking, feeling, deciding, speaking, or doing?

Effective, successful people in all walks of life, around the world, have for centuries found that the practice of journaling helps them learn-by-doing, i.e., learn from the feedback they receive from consequences of their choices so they can adapt, improve, survive, and thrive. In addition, I will try to provide you some helpful feedback to your journal assignment so you can get the most benefit from it.

This is the rubric that will be used to provide you a grade, along with personalized verbal feedback, on your journal assignment:



10 pts

Communication: English Composition, Logic, Followed Template Instructions and the Learning-by-Doing Methodology, Used Inline Citations & References When Required 

10 pts

ACQUIRE : Describe a Deep Understanding of the Concept(s), including Insights into the Distinction between Components of the Concept and the Central Idea of the Concept

5 pt

INTERPRET : Describe How the Concept Integrates with What You Already Know, i.e., How it Fits Like a Jigsaw Puzzle Piece into the Puzzle Picture in Your Mind

5 pts

INTERPRET : Describe How the Concept is Relevant to You, i.e., How it Connects to a Personal/Professional Situation in Your Life and/or Your Work

5 pts

INTERPRET : Describe How the Concept is Meaningful to You, i.e., How it Contribute Significance and Worth to Your Life and/or Work

5 pts

INTERPRET: Describe How the Concept is Useful to You and Could be Applied to a Personal/Professional Situation in a Way that Would Make a Positive Difference

15 pts

APPLY  ( Plan): Develop a Clear Plan for Application with Small, S.M.A.R.T., Action Steps To Be Taken  

15 pts

APPLY  ( Do): Describe How the Specific Action Steps Were Actually Taken in Your Real-Time, Real-World Experience During the Period of the Assignment 

15 pts

APPLY  ( Study): Report on Your " After Action Review" of What Went Right, What Went Wrong, and How Your Plan Was Refined for Further Action 

15 pts

APPLY ( Act): Describe How the Refined Plan was Executed Again and How the PDSA Cycle is Being (or Will Be) Repeated toward Changing an Old Habit or Developing a New Habit of Seeing, Thinking, Feeling, Deciding, Speaking, Doing, Learning, Adapting, Becoming, and Seeing Anew regarding the Targeted Concept

100 pts


Learning Journal Template © 2023 All Rights Reserved. James C McHann