Components of Action learning
Action learning is a unique way in which involves a small group of people that come together, work on real problems, ask questions about the nature of the problem instead of looking for the answers to a problem straight away. Action learning was developed by Professor Reg Revans and today, World Institute of Action Learning, WIAL, is a leading certifying body for action learning coaches.
Action Learning approach results in insightful questioning and reflective listening among the participants looking for possible solutions to the problem and taking action accordingly. The action learning process reverse engineers problem solving and encourages all the participants to think, ask questions, share ideas and act to solve the problem. Each group member commits to learn and practice leadership skills and as part of the process they also give feedback to each other
Action learning is a great way to develop and increase the effectiveness at all levels; individuals, teams, leaders and organisation. The process ensures equal emphasis on the learning and development of the group members and has the capacity to build leadership skills. It positions inquiry at the heart of organisation behaviour.
There are six components of Action Learning:
- Problem: One person or a group of members present a problem, situation, projects or even an opportunity for the group to discuss. This issue or problem should be urgent, significant, and the responsibility of the team/group to resolve.
- Group: The Action Learning team is ideally composed of 4-8 people, with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This ensures there are different perspectives available in the discussion and the all participants get adequate opportunity to share their knowledge and experience as they work together.
- Question & Reflection: Action Learning tackles problems through a process of first asking questions to clarify the exact nature of the problem. Questions help to unpack new avenues, fresh insights and allow all group members the opportunity to understand the problem and reflect on how assumptions may be shaping their beliefs and actions. It provides the opportunity for the much-needed systems thinking. The action is taken only after reflecting and identifying possible solutions. Reflection plays a very important role in the learning process.
- Action: Action Learning requires that the action learning group be able to take action on the problem it is working on. The process of questioning, reflection, thinking and discussion on issues, enables the group to come up with a set of actions and strategies that may help make progress towards a solution.
- Learning: Action Learning offers long-term strategic value to the organization in terms of the learning gained by each group member and the group as a whole as well as the application of the learning throughout the organization. A key element of the process is that the process involves a commitment to learning by each member and many people may become conscious of deliberately practicing the skills or new behaviours as they solve problems. The process may allow them to reflect and learn on how they may have framed their questions or responses differently, thus making way for groups to learn on the go.
- Coach: The primary role of an Action Learning coach is to help the team members reflect on both what they are learning and how they are solving problems in an action learning program. The coach also ensures that there is learning and practice of leadership skills. It is also useful for the coach to model the behaviour.
Action learning also has two ground rules that the group adheres to during the process. First, statements can only be made in response to a question and second, the coach has the authority to intervene anytime he sees a learning opportunity. The role of the coach is to ensure that the ground rules must be followed at all times. This is very important for action learning process to work seamlessly
Action learning has emerged as a key tool for learning and development as well as a process for solving complex challenges within an organisation.
If you think you, your team, or your organisation needs to know more about the benefit and applications of Action Learning, leave a message on our website and our TC Global learning teams will reach out to you.