Category Archives: Blog

The transformative power of action learning

For the past four years Action Learning Associates has worked with the Clore Social leadership Programme (Clore Social) to offer action learning as a core element of the first 12 months of their Fellowship programme. It is a space where Fellows can reflect on their leadership journey, share their experiences and learn from each other through applying the rigour and discipline of action learning to the challenges they encounter in this significant development year. (more…)

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Finding a creative approach to evaluating action learning

Wheel of LifeFirst of all I’ve had to overcome a stupid fear of doing a blog!  Why should I be so reluctant to do something new? I’ve had to do some action learning on myself to get to the bottom of it and…….guess what?  My fear is simply based on a ridiculous lack of confidence in anything to do with computers.  Eventually I established that writing a blog is simply, well…. writing and I’ve been doing that for years – so here goes…

At our annual ALA Associates Day, we spent some time looking at ways to evidence the benefits of action learning to potential clients.  We all know action learning works but how do you measure that? (more…)

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Action learning and vulnerability

daringgreatlybadgeI have been facilitating action learning sets for over ten years and remain as passionate about action learning as the day I first encountered it – in 1999 in a set facilitated by Sonja Antell, now Director of Action Learning Associates.

My experience was powerful partly because I am someone who loves process and I observed how the action learning process provides boundaries, safety, space and creativity to explore ‘stuff.  Also at that time I was in a role where I felt quite vulnerable and isolated within a large organisation and the action learning space enabled that vulnerability to be revealed and explored.

In all the sets I have facilitated since I am interested in the ways set members reveal their vulnerabilities and the way that the action learning process, and therefore the set, can honour that. (more…)

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Life changing aspects of action learning by Guest blogger, Lindsey West of Burnley Youth Theatre

Lindsey WestWow. I’m on the train back from three days of intensity in London where I have been training to become an accredited action learning facilitator. It has been eye-opening and amazing! For those of you who may not have encountered action learning before “it is a fantastic personal and professional development experience that improves your performance and helps you build new competencies, it promotes learning and self reflection and it helps you find alternative solutions in challenging and changing times.” Quite frankly, it is life changing! (more…)

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Free action learning taster workshop – Friday 20 March

Heard about action learning and intrigued by what you’ve heard?  Like to try it for real?  ALA is running a free half day Taster Workshop in Central London on Friday 20 March to give you first-hand experience of this powerful development process – whether you are interested in using it for organisational or professional development. To apply for a place please email us or phone 0207 407 1971

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Commissioning in health and social care: Action Learning as a process to support leaders dealing with complexity and change

Reflecting on the current winter crisis in the NHS, manifesting in ‘critical incidents’ being declared by a number of Hospital Trusts, I was reminded how complex ‘leading’ in the NHS has become. The focus of this article is on how action learning can provide a powerful process to support NHS commissioners as they grapple with complexity, change and difficult choices. (more…)

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“My best Google result ever” – ALA’s taster workshops in action learning

Sonja Antell xs
ALA runs regular open taster workshops for people who are keen to try
action learning or for those who may be considering using action learning in their organisation and want to know more.

It is a slightly risky thing to do – the make-up of the group which attends is entirely arbitrary – made up of a wide cross section of people and professionals spanning a diverse range of organisations and businesses. A few already have a little experience of action learning and want to revisit; others have no experience at all.  Some are tasked with starting programmes in their organisations and just want to see what action learning involves. (more…)

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Does action learning increase performance?

ACI_PerformanceImprovmentWe are often asked how do you demonstrate that action learning is an effective, powerful and cost-effective methodology for developing individuals, teams and organisations?

Our Associates meet regularly in pairs or small working groups to discuss current pieces of work, client requests, programme design, quality of practice, depth of learning and all things action learning.  Once a year, however, we get together as a larger group of Associates to explore a particular aspect of action learning practice in more detail.  The purpose of these Associates’ days is to maintain and improve the quality of our practice and to re-connect as a group.  The specific purpose of our recent Associates’ day was to strengthen our capacity to evaluate action learning interventions and to develop practical methods for demonstrating the efficacy of action learning programmes. (more…)

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What do UK businesses need? What can action learning contribute?

A study commissioned by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) on the challenge UK businesses face in recruiting and developing skilled leaders and managers found that:

  • between 2007 and 2017 an additional 2.2 million new managers will be needed  in the UK. I.3 million to replace those retiring and 0.8 to manage increasing numbers
  • 93% of survey respondents said that low levels of management skills are having a direct impact on their business
  • only 18% of employers expect candidates to have received management training prior to being appointed to a management position so the majority are expected to learn on the job, often with little or no support
  • there is a dire shortage of softer leadership and management skills.  Organisations consistently struggle to find managers at every level who are emotionally intelligent, inspirational and creative – attributes which are considered critical for 21st Century management as businesses adapt to diversity, complexity and change. (more…)
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Action learning – high challenge and high support for project development by guest blogger Tony McBride

_MG_9524_CP8Project background & challenges

In February Cardboard Citizens were delighted to receive an Extension Award from the Wellcome Trust to further develop a theatre project exploring neuroscience and The Heritage of Violence. It’s an ambitious project and one made more so by a very tight schedule.  Although the project was designed and funded to go into schools, we had no firm commitment from our identified schools, just a conviction that it would be of interest to them.  But a niggling doubt remained – Is it something that they need and want?  What happens if not?

 Action learning set – high challenge/high support

At the time when these challenges were being faced, I had been a member of an action learning set funded by A New Direction (AND) for three months and had contributed to presentations made by other set members – asking clarifying, then open questions to support and challenge the presenter towards identifying specific actions towards desired outcomes.

Having decided to present, I had a decision to make:  whether to present on a personal work related issue, or to use the opportunity to present on the A Heritage of Violence project.  Having been reassured that it was ok to present on a specific project, I decided to do so.  I’m glad I did. (more…)

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