Q: What do the participants learn?
A: Action Learning focuses on learning at three levels: 1. about the problem which is being tackled; 2. about the participant as a person trying to make things happen; 3. about the process of learning itself.
Q: What skills or previous experience are required to join an Action Learning Set?
The skills of Action Learning are ordinary skills like the ability to listen and ask open questions. These are honed and developed with the help of other set members (and facilitator where present) over the duration of the set.
Q: How big is an Action Learning Set?
A set normally consists of 5-8 people and a facilitator, if there is one. Set members will commit to attend all meetings for an agreed period of time.
Q: How much time does Action Learning take?
A: The time it takes depends on many factors. Typically a group will meet for a half or full day 5-6 times over 6-9 months.
Q: Can Action Learning be adapted to different situations?
A: Action Learning is a well-tried way of accelerating people’s learning so they can handle difficult situations more effectively and bring about change. It is a universal approach which has been successfully applied in many different organisations and situations world-wide.
Q: What makes a good ‘task’ to work on in an Action Learning Set?
A: Action Learning needs an open-ended ‘problem’ not a ‘puzzle’ or technical question which has a right answer. The problem should be challenging for the person, involve action by him or her, and preferably have an impact on operating performance or financial results.
A: It is a basic principle of Action Learning that we have an innate capacity to learn by thinking for ourselves and acting for ourselves. We don’t need experts to tell us. But it can be appropriate to link Action Learning with a prior training programme in order to support people as they work out for themselves how to use the training ideas in their actual situation.
Q: Does an Action Learning group always need a ‘set adviser’ (facilitator)?
A: An effective learning coach adds real value by guiding participants into the process, encouraging the group to focus on learning as well as on action, and maintaining the structure and quality of the programme. Mature Action Learners may work without a set adviser but new groups trying to meet without one frequently fail to work effectively.
Q: Is Action Learning just a ‘talking shop’?
The ‘action’ in Action Learning means that action is a key principle of the process. Action Learning is essentially a practical and solution focussed method.
Q: Why do organisations become involved in Action Learning?
A: Action Learning offers a strategy of continuous learning for both managerial development and organisational development. Organisations cannot survive and beat the competition unless their rate of learning is equal to or greater than the rate of change – or as Reg Revans expressed it L > C