Action learning


  • Identify common learning needs and meet these within the group through shared learning
  • Bring people together to find solutions to problems—developing the individuals and the organisation in the process
  • Provide ongoing reflection and learning supported by colleagues
  • Get things done!


  • Learning about the problem/issues  being tackled
  • Learning about ourselves
  • Learning about how we learn best
  • Learning new ways of doing things


  • Enhances networking
  • Increases responsibility and self confidence
  • Increases interpersonal skills
  • Increases resourcefulness
  • Builds coaching skills
  • Encourages action and accelerates learning
  • Increases self awareness

How does it work?

  • Identify common issues/problems or individuals take turn in bringing issues to the group
  • Approx. 6—10 members
  • Group usually meets regularly
  • Issues/learning explored during meeting
  • Individuals state support required (i.e. advice, listening etc.)
  • Support and challenge from the group
  • Agreement to act (what are you going to do?)
  • Try out in practice
  • Learn (from successes and failures), share, review, learn (come back and report)

How does an action learning group work?
Five key elements:

  • The person—owns the problem/issue. Uses the group to explore the issue and work things out for themselves.
  • The group—act as consultant /coach: questioning, confronting, challenging, supporting, advising, playing devil’s advocate
  • The problems—and outcome must have relevance for all
  • The process—observation, reflection, hypothesis, action
  • The facilitator—explains the process, provides structure/focus, facilitates learning

Group values

  • Shared ownership
  • Non judgemental
  • Honesty
  • Openness
  • Desire to be more self aware
  • Risk taking
  • Reflection
  • Commitment to own learning, to the group, to action
  • Additional ground rules agreed by the group

Getting going

  • Agree what issue to explore and who it belongs to
  • Presenter presents the support they require
  • Presenter presents the issue uninterrupted
  • The group question (using open/coaching questioning skills and not leading questions) to help the individual open up/explore the issue.
  • The group provide feedback and advice (leave advice until after the questioning round if the individual wants it).
  • The individual agree actions.
  • As a group reflect on the problem solving process & how well it worked & on group and individual learning at the end of the session.

Future sessions:

  • Start session with an update of actions from the previous session.

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