Introduction to Action Learning


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Introduction to Action Learning, with the 6 components, 2 groundrules and the integration of leadership competencies. I use this file as a 30 minute introduction before doing a session with a team for the first time.

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Introduction to Action Learning

  1. 1. Discovering Action Learning A Powerful Tool for Solving Problems and Developing Leaders, Teams and Organizations
  2. 2. About me • ASIO Consulting in 2012 -> TEAM EXCELLENCE • more than 20 years experience – in Asia and North-America – leading teams in operations – supply chain, quality, manufacturing, engineering and human resources • 1st Thailand based CALC Certified Action Learning Coach by WIAL ( • PhD candidate in KIM at Bangkok University • English, French, Dutch and Thai Peter Cauwelier
  3. 3. A problem solving and leadership development process that involves a small group working on real problems, taking action, and learning as individuals and as a team while doing so. What is Action Learning ? Peter Cauwelier
  4. 4. action -> solution learning Peter Cauwelier
  5. 5. Peter Cauwelier
  6. 6. Peter Cauwelier
  7. 7. Six components of an Action Learning program …  Project, challenge, task, or problem  Group of 4-8 people with diverse perspectives  Reflective questioning and listening  Creating solutions and taking action  Commitment to learning  Action Learning coach Peter Cauwelier
  8. 8. • real and important to the organization or individual • complex problems -> powerful and valuable action learning • problem should be feasible and within the authority and/or responsibility of the person presenting it 1. Problem or challenge Peter Cauwelier
  9. 9. Examples … • Attracting high tech workers • Developing training programs for leaders • Improving information systems • Improving customer service • Resolving conflict between departments • Developing a new performance appraisal system • Establishing work schedules • Improving a department’s image Peter Cauwelier
  10. 10. • 4-8 members to maximize creativity • diverse backgrounds -> various viewpoints • familiar or unfamiliar with problem • importance of confidentiality 2. Group Peter Cauwelier
  11. 11. • working on the right problem • agreement on the problem through questioning • understanding context as well as content 3. Questioning and reflecting Peter Cauwelier
  12. 12. • before solutions -> diverge in a systems perspective • allow us to reflect, listen, be creative, and learn • help to clarify, to open up new avenues, to offer ideas and insights • carry seeds of solutions open-ended questions ideas dialogue creativity breakthrough thinking innovation discovery inquiry perspectives exploration
  13. 13. “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” Albert Einstein Peter Cauwelier
  14. 14. • taking action leads to problem solution • testing ideas in practice determines if effective and practical • recommendations only diminishes creativity and commitment 4. Action LEARNING ACTION Peter Cauwelier
  15. 15. “There can be no learning without action and no action without learning.” Reg Revans the ‘grandfather’ of action learning Peter Cauwelier
  16. 16. Focus on individual, team and organization-wide learning • Members take responsibility for own, group’s, and organization’s learning • Time is set aside to talk about learnings and how to apply them 5. Learning
  17. 17. L = P + Q + R Learning = Programmed Knowledge + Questioning + Reflection Dr Michael Marquardt the ‘father’ of action
  18. 18. • group member or “external” partner • ensures sufficient time for learning • helps team to reflect on interactions and implications of actions to be taken • assures rules and process are followed 6. Coach Peter Cauwelier
  19. 19. Six components of an Action Learning program …  Project, challenge, task, or problem  Group of 4-8 people with diverse perspectives  Reflective questioning and listening  Creating solutions and taking action  Commitment to learning  Action Learning coach and 2 ground rules 1. Statements only in response to questions; anyone can ask questions 2. Coach has authority to intervene whenever he/she identifies learning opportunities Peter Cauwelier
  20. 20. Working on leadership competencies  Select one leadership competency you want to practice  Practice through the questions you ask and statements you make  Listen for other team members practicing their competency and write down evidence Feedback at the end of the session 1. Each about self 2. Each about others 3. Coach about all Peter Cauwelier
  21. 21. Leadership skills (example) • Systematic thinking • Customer focus • Business focus • Creativity • Planning • Open to change • Critical thinking • Strategic thinking • Reframing • Big picture thinking • Analytical skills • Listening • … Peter Cauwelier
  22. 22. Action Learning Session Flow Problem presenter shares the problem Team gains clarity and reaches consensus on problem Team creates solutions Problem presenter commits to action Team reflects on learning coach intervenes when necessary for process or learning Peter Cauwelier
  23. 23. Problem Presenter • 2-3 minutes to highlight the key elements of the problem – What are the issues or concerns ? – Why is this issue important and urgent ? – What do I want to get from this session ? • Answer the questions asked of you as concisely as you can • You do not have to answer questions that – you do not have the answer for (“I don’t know”) – for which you have not yet formed an opinion (“I need to think about that question;” “I’m not sure”) Peter Cauwelier
  24. 24. Team Members • Seek to gain a group-agreed understanding of the problem by asking questions • Make statements only in response to questions directed specifically to you or to the group as a whole • Feel free to ask questions of other group members as well • Try to build on each other’s questions rather than just on getting your questions answered Peter Cauwelier
  25. 25. Action Learning Coach • Focus is on helping the group learn and improve, and not on helping to solve the problem • Manage the time so both action and learning are accomplished in the session Peter Cauwelier
  26. 26. • Solves complex problems and challenges in a systems- thinking approach • Develops systems thinking and creativity • Enables individuals and teams to learn while working • Develops leadership competencies • Builds powerful teams Power and benefits of Action Learning Peter Cauwelier
  27. 27. Comparison with other development approaches Action learning Short training courses Education programs (MBA like) Coaching or mentoring International assignment Team building Individual competency development      ? Team building and development  ?     Taking action on business priorities    ?   Learning and developing new knowledge       Reflecting about own and other’s mental models     ? ? Peter Cauwelier
  28. 28. Introduce the process in existing company structures: • Project management • Personal development plans • High-potential development programs • Team brainstorming sessions • Innovation teams • Follow up after training sessions Train internal coaches to ensure sustainability Introducing Action Learning in your organization Peter Cauwelier
  29. 29. WIAL – Thailand 2013 Peter Cauwelier
  30. 30. Certification of Action Learning Coaches Peter Cauwelier Foundations of Action Learning ALF 2 days Certification for Action Learning Coaches 1 CALC1 2 days Certification for Action Learning Coaches 2 CALC2 2 days
  31. 31. Peter Cauwelier or 081 939 7833 Thank you
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