What is Action Learning?
Action Learning is a method for individual and organisational development. Working in a small group, members tackle important organisational issues or problems and learn from their attempts to change things. I have run action learning for over a decade for organisations in the private and public sectors. I have my own proven process for facilitation of them.
It is not an activity with laid-down rules, but a concept, an idea, a way of working together toward common learning. It was devised by an extraordinary man called Reg Revans, who died in 2003 aged 96. He was often asked to define Action Learning, but refused to do so, because he did not want to restrict its development. His whole approach to learning was democratic and empowering – so laying down definitions did not come naturally to him!
He did, however, detail four elements of action learning:
- Each person joins in and takes part voluntarily
- Each participant must own a managerial or organisational problem on which they want to act
- Sets or groups of action learners meet to help each other think through the issues and create options
- They take action and learn from the effects of that action
Action learning is a powerful way of enabling the organisation to create empowered and resourceful managers. It enables the participant to:
- benefit from a range of perspectives on an issue that they bring to the group, and on the process of working through organisational problems
- learn about the issues facing other managers by participating in the discussion of their issues, and, in the process, learn about some of their own issues
- participate in the search for solutions and ways forward
- learn about management in general
- build a network affording mutual support – management can be a lonely business
- experience Action Learning as a powerful learning medium
Value for Money
Action Learning provides excellent value for money for the individual and the organisation. The individual AL Set member comes out of the set with some ideas and a way forward in dealing with the issue he or she has brought. And at the same time, the consideration given to her or his issues has enabled the other set members to think and learn about similar issues within their own organisation and experience.