What is Action Learning?

Action Learning is a process that involves a small group working on real problems, taking action, and learning as individuals, as a team, and as an organisation. It helps them to develop creative, flexible, and successful strategies to tackle problems.

It requires the participants to act to learn, and learn to act.

This well-known and renowned corporate strategy produces better insights and greatly improves decision-making processes.

Background

Action Learning is a learning philosophy that was developed in the 1940’s by the British management consultant and professor, Reg Revans (1907-2003). During WW2, Revans brought coal mine managers together in small groups to share experiences and ask each other questions about what they had seen and heard. Productivity increased by 30% because of that. In the following decades, he further developed his insights into a much-praised and applied methodology, which is used by many large organisations across the globe.

Samsung, General Electric, Heineken, and Boeing all use Action Learning to solve complex issues and increase the learning capacities of their organisations.

Process & Components

Action Learning is a process of insightful questioning and reflective listening.
Action Learning tackles problems through a process of first asking questions to clarify the exact nature of the problem, reflecting and identifying possible solutions, and then taking action. Questions build group dialogue and cohesiveness, generate innovative and system thinking, and improve learning outcomes.

action learning process

1. A problem
A problem should be urgent, significant, and be the responsibility of the team to solve.

2. An Action Learning Group or Team
The team consists of 4-8 people with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

3. A Process of Insightful Questioning and Reflective Listening
Action Learning approaches problems through a process of asking questions to determine the exact nature of the problem. Action is taken after identifying and evaluating possible solutions. Questions build group dialogue and cohesiveness. Good questions also generate innovative and systems-based thinking.

4. An Action Taken on the Problem
Action Learning requires that the group takes action on the problem it is working on. If the group only makes recommendations, it loses its energy, creativity, and commitment.

5. A Commitment to Learning
Solving an organisational problem provides immediate, short-term benefits to the company. The higher, longer-term strategic value to the organisation is the learning gained by each group member and the group as a whole. The implementation of the solutions and learning also improves the organisation’s effectiveness. 

6. An Action Learning Coach
The coach helps the team members reflect on what they are learning and how they are solving problems. He/she enables group members to reflect on how they listen. They are then asked to reframe the problem and give feedback on how the team plans and works together.

The coach also helps the team focus on what they find difficult, what processes they employ, and the implications of these processes on what they achieve. With this information, teams can grow and become more cohesive.

Action Learning Session

The Power of Action Learning

Empowering Leaders

  • Reflect on and learn from individual experiences
  • Improve personal leadership and soft skills
  • Improve your awareness of how assumptions, beliefs, attitudes, and organisational interests influence thinking, decisions and actions
  • Develop your Emotional Intelligence (EI): self-awareness, awareness of others, and personal adaptability
  • Find the courage to speak in groups and encourage others to do the same

Boosting Teams

  • Builds positive, mutually respectful working relationships with colleagues at all levels of the organisation
  • Develops individual and team problem-solving and decision-making capabilities
  • Improves the ability to reflect on, and learn from the collective experience
  • Develop awareness in the context of multicultural diverse teams
  • Continually monitor and strengthen team functions

Impacting Organisations

  • Improve the efficiency of the work process
  • Rapidly solve urgent and important business challenges
  • Achieve a high Return on Investment (ROI) on the organisation’s projects
  • Develop highly qualified candidates for promotion to executive leadership positions
  • Set effective strategic goals
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