A is for Action Learning

A recent conversation about how learning has changed over the decades has prompted this series and challenged me to come up with 26 ways to learn #AtoZofLearning.

Digital content, tools and technology is transforming how learning is designed and delivered. Accessing learning any time, anywhere, any device, individually or collectively has given choice, flexibility and control to the learner.

Social media has enabled learners to collaborate, communicate and connect with others beyond their own natural work groups, creating communities not only within the immediate workplace but globally.

These are exciting times for those who facilitate learning – gathering new skills, embracing new technology and experimenting with new approaches.

With that said, I am kicking off with a methodology that has been around since the 1940’s when it was pioneered by Reg Revans. It’s popularity and staying power might be due to its dual benefits at an:

  1. Individual level of enhancing learning and development
  2. Organisational level of bringing about improvements and innovation

A for Action Learning

I was introduced to Action Learning over 25 years ago and it remains one of my favourite approaches to learning, especially in leadership development. What better fodder for learning and developing than solving problems from within your own organisation!

Peer learning sets from across functions within an organisation or from across organisations / sectors are a great way to learn experientially, solve organisational challenges whilst getting the support required.

How does it work?

  • A group of about 6 people at comparable levels of responsibility meet regularly for a contracted number of meetings (usually for half a day every 6-8 weeks for 6-12 months).
  • Each member takes it in turn to present their problem to the group
  • Through a process of skilled questioning and dialogue the group helps each member to get to heart of the problem, review options, and decide on what actions he will take in moving forward
  • In between sessions, each member takes action and reports on this action and its results at the next meeting

A facilitator acts as catalyst, guide and supports the process – helping the group to reflect on group processes, what and how they have learnt, how feedback and challenge is given, what they are achieving and the processes employed

Benefits

  • Solutions to your challenges and issues
  • Fresh thinking and new ways of looking at and dealing with situations
  • Enhanced problem solving and decision making skills
  • Support, feedback and positive challenge from peers
  • Learning by doing and developing how to learn skills
  • Develop your questioning, listening, and diagnostic skills
  • Have the confidence to challenge, ask better questions, review, critically reflect and get to the heart of a problem
  • Increased ability to see situations from a wider perspectives
  • Develop facilitation and coaching skills
  • A safe environment to experiment, take risks, share feelings

Unlike the 1940’s, learning with a small group of people does not need to take place face to face as technology such as Skype and Google enables sets to come together virtually.

Find more information at:

ABC of Action Learning by Reg Revans

Action Learning for Managers by Mike Pedler

International Foundation for Action Learning

World Institute for Action Learning

What do you think of Action Learning as an approach? Would love to hear your views and experience of being part of a set or as a facilitator

Next in the #AtoZofLearning B is for Blogs and Blogging

I’m an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance, drive results and achieve career success. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, designing learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please follow, like, comment, share and connect with me @verawoodhead

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About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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