Action learning is a group-based approach to problem solving. We use it to help individuals, teams and organisations find solutions to complex problems affecting their work.
Best leaders don’t always have the right answers, but they do know how to ask the most powerful questions. Action learning helps people become skilled at question making, develop self-awareness, improve listening skills, and develops their ability to apply a level of objectivity to an issue. These skills are highly relevant to management and leadership in all sectors, and are also core elements of coaching.
How it works:
In Action Learning, participants prepare for a meeting (often called a set) by identifying a work issue they’re stuck with. The group will come together and, after a check in, will decide to focus on one individual’s issue. With the help of a facilitator, the other group members will ask the individual analytical, clarifying questions so that the group understands the issue.
Then, as the session progresses, the focus turns to finding solutions to the issue. The group’s intention is to avoid advice, but instead to ask questions that help the individual find the solution themselves. This process can then be repeated for other group members. At the end, key actions from the learning can be captured and progress reported back on the next time the set meets.
How we use it:
At Koreo, a typical half-day Action Learning Set lasts 3 hours. Sets can be run as a one off, but typically meeting on a six weekly cycle.
Action Learning can be applied within or across organisations. Horizontal Sets are made up of peers (for example senior leadership or heads of department), but we also encourage organisations to use Vertical Sets where the group represent multiple management levels.
By practicing as vertical sets, you accelerate information sharing across the organisation and you increase the power of problem solving, because you have a greater diversity of perspectives on a problem. They also encourage more cohesion and connection within an organisation, because you combat the silos that come naturally through organizational hierarchies.
One of the great things about action learning is that once a set is established it can continue meeting long after our involvement has ended. It’s a sustainable approach to developing and supporting people at any level of the organisation.