Action Learning is gaining popularity across the world. The reason is that, when facilitated well, it offers a magnificently unique combination of personal learning and project / solution delivery.
What is action learning?
Wikipedia1 offers this excellent definition:
Action learning is an approach to solving real problems that involves taking action and reflecting upon the results. The learning that results helps improve the problem-solving process as well as the solutions the team develops. The action learning process includes:
- a real problem that is important, critical, and usually complex,
- a diverse problem-solving team or “set”,
- a process that promotes curiosity, inquiry, and reflection,
- a requirement that talk be converted into action and, ultimately, a solution, and
- a commitment to learning.
The magic of action learning
The magic of action learning works when a team is formed with a common purpose to solve a problem that the business is currently challenged by. The problem must be real, and there must be a real need within the business to have it solved. Concocted challenges, theoretical issues, and simulations do not work for action learning.
Equally, if you can solve the problem by calling in an expert, or if you already know what to do, and are seeking verification of your viewpoint, or if you are seeking to find resources to deliver on a project, you do not need action learning.
Personal development at its best
One of the key principles of action learning is that there is an equal focus on personal development and solving the management challenge. The focus is thus equally on how the project is delivered versus what is delivered.
Individuals appointed to the team consider what managerial or interpersonal attributes they wish to leverage or improve through the action learning experience. These are presented to and shared within the team in the set-up phase.
Individuals within the team (sometimes called a set) offer the gift of feedback to each other at regular intervals throughout project delivery. Tremendous shifts can be achieved that can benefit individuals greatly as they move through their leadership journeys.
Superior ROI to the business
Ideally, the appointed team will have no prior knowledge of, or experience with, the problem being undertaken. Because the problems are complex rather than complicated (ie they are not technical, where specific subject matter expertise will be required), the team feels safe asking the ‘stupid’ questions. And in this process of asking what has previously been assumed is where solutions are often uncovered.
Action Learning teams can grapple with very complex challenges, and drive surprisingly insightful and accurate solutions, delivering a quality return to business.
Ready for Action Learning?
If you’d like to meet with us and discuss Action Learning for your organisation, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Contact us here.
1 Wikipedia’s definition of action learning – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_learning