This paper contends that improved teaching and the emergence of research questions may be based on reflective self-observation, structured by means of personal knowledge management tools, often between and after cycles of action research. The paper revisits the concepts of data, information, knowledge, meaning and action. It proposes that knowledge be enacted in engaged teaching and research. It discusses how reflection on teaching and research can be structured as self-observation made visual in the form of concept maps. Concept maps are used both to illustrate learning and as a means of making initially personal knowledge more explicit, particularly in the early stages of inquiry and learning and particularly as part of an abductive logic of enquiry. Structured self-observation is distinguished from merely descriptive auto-ethnography by means of explicit model building informed by Ashby’s law of Requisite Variety and Conant and Ashby’s Good Regulator theorem. The method used to illustrate the paper’s propositions is case-based reflection on a teaching situation. Similar reflection in the research context is additionally informed by a discussion of Checkland’s LUMAS (Learning for a User by a Methodology-informed Approach to a problem Situation). We conclude by suggesting that enquiry may initially be informed by structured self-observation and then proceed by further learning, informed by theory and enacted in practice