Why Action Learning?
“I’ve had more directly applicable job learning from this than from any conference I ever went to!” That’s what one Managing Director told me – and that is what professional peer consulting in a facilitated Action Learning group can do for you.
At conferences and workshops, colleagues and I have noticed again and again how participants seem most eager to have an exchange of experiences with each other and are looking for peer advice. Most of the time, however, little or no time is planned in around these events for such peer exchange to take place – at best, some Open Space Technology sessions will be offered. Here Action Learning, a facilitated and confidential peer consulting approach, can be a welcome solution.
What is Action Learning about?
Action Learning is all about bringing your current management or leadership issues into a trusting exchange of knowledge and experience, joint reflection, and hands-on feedback with five selected peers from other organizations. Complete confidentiality is assured!
Openness and trust, respect, joint co-creation of the coaching process and mutual learning are key elements of Action Learning.
How does it work?
An Action Learning group typically has six participants and a facilitator. Each session starts with a catch-up phase during which group members share their current news or just let the others know how they are currently doing.
The catch-up phase is followed by some members putting in own bids for help with issues they would like to talk through. In one Action Learning session, typically more than one person will bring her/his topic to the group. An issue holder then shares her or his issue, for about five minutes. After that, the other participants will ask questions for clarification only. Following issue clarification, group members can then:
o Ask open questions
o Offer feedback
o Challenge and support
o Offer suggestions
o Offer theories and ideas
o Offer advice
How long does it take?
Participants generally come together for a day, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm.
One Action Learning round typically lasts about one hour (sometimes a bit shorter, sometimes a bit longer). Several issue holders can each get an Action Learning ‘round’ during one day. After an Action Learning day, group members go back into their organizations and experiment further with the topic they talked about, the consulting they received, and own new understanding and insights.
Participants meet again after six weeks – altogether about four to six times over a period of half a year –– to share learning experiences, and to start another round of talking through own learning and development issues around effective management and leadership.