Action Learning – Definition and Benefits

What is Action Learning?

Action Learning is a sustainable way to learn different skills, develop confidence in your ability to solve complex problems and work well with others. You can think of it more like a boot camp in the sense that you’re doing real-world activities that you wouldn’t be able to with the more narrow definition of action learning. Action Learning is a blend of theory, research, and practical application that aims to develop creativity.

The focus is on making information available so that decision-makers can act on it and instruction in the skills required to solve complex problems using available resources and knowledge. Action Learning has been the foundation of organizational and individual learning for over forty years. Action Learning was designed to integrate creative problem solving, science and engineering, education, decision making, and technology.

Action learning will help you improve your productivity and effectiveness if you can apply what you think you know about these subjects to new situations where it might be applicable.

 Action Learning is funny, interactive, and engaging. It forces you to be creative, get creative and push your boundaries. During the ‘action learning’ process, you’re challenged to think outside the box and think outside the possibilities. Action learning will make you think differently about every little thing that comes your way from now on – discovering interesting connections, new opportunities, and connections.

How Does Action Learning Work?

Action learning is a group process developed by Reg Revans in the 1960s. It focuses on developing individuals by giving them a chance to speak openly about the challenges they encounter. It leads to the professional development of all members of the team.

The first step to applying action learning is to gather a team of like-minded people. A set is made of about six people, and they meet daily for 90 minutes to discuss a certain problem or case study in depth. When a group of like-minded people comes together to discuss their challenges and goals, amazing results can happen. Professionals often set up action learning groups to improve their skills and network with their colleagues.

When the set meets, the first thing they do is select one of the members to be a facilitator. There are several key responsibilities that facilitators need to cover.

  • Set up the time,
  • Run the meetings,
  • Make sure everyone stays focused on their task,
  • Be an expert who knows how to get the most out of the set’s time.
  • When working on a challenge, ensure that everyone has the chance to voice their ideas. 
  • Control the set by providing a space where they can explain their thoughts and ask questions freely. 
  • Follow-up on the findings and create action plans that promote learning and help people expand their thinking.
  • Support in achieving real results by encouraging creative, out-of-box thinking from all members of your set.
  • Acts as a mediator between management and the set members.

The facilitator is assigned specific duties, but they also contribute to the discussions alongside other set members. The roles of the set are:

  • To keep the meeting on track
  • To add to the discussion by speaking out the problems 
  • To contribute to solutions to those problems 
  • To stay focused and active, listen and speak up. 
  • To participate in the decision-making process, take action by taking action and implementing the solution at their job.

After the meeting, Set members work on what was discussed and are expected to implement all those recommendations to solve current problems. These solutions may involve bringing another one or two team members who were not part of the set group. It’s important to handle these situations diplomatically, so be sensitive when explaining the solution to your colleague.

The team reports back at the next meeting on any issues encountered so that these may be resolved and work can continue. The team members should discuss any difficulties with implementing a solution and how they might overcome them by sharing solutions that did not work or were unsuccessful, thereby helping other members develop future solutions to implement.

They need to inform about the results as below

  • What did you do? The speaker will describe what they did, what went well, and what didn’t go well.
  • What happened? -We brought our colleagues into the picture, and everyone agreed. We are focused on developing the best practices and strategies that will help us to achieve our vision.
  • Was it any different from expectations? Share the expectations and the results, whether negative or positive, accordingly.
  • Did you implement all actions from our last meeting? If not, please detail why and how the implementation could have been handled better.
  • What was the lesson learned from the action?

From the report, the facilitator will be able to expand upon the issues that have been raised. This will lead to another generation of action learning. To find a solution for the problem, the facilitator will ask the group these questions:

  • What is the current issue?
  • What action should be taken once the issue is identified?
  • What is the action points to be identified to solve the issue?

Action learning is an iterative, cyclical process for continuous improvement. It is the use of action, reflection, and revision to improve all aspects of a business.

Benefits of Action Learning

  • It allows you to grow because you are continuously challenged. It adds something new to your skills and keeps them relevant to your career goals by making them beneficial to all parties involved in your development, whether management or clients.
  • It provides us with the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish the long-lasting goals we set for ourselves, something more intangible than espousing a cause or signing up for a program, something external to our professional work life.
  • Action Learning offers advantages over traditional methods for transforming learners into competent problem-solvers.
  • It promotes continuous learning and growth within teams by following a process of systematic Challenge and Decision making.
  • The core benefit of action learning is that it provides managers a way to bring about swift change within a team.
  • Action learning can be considered to be a form of ‘learning by doing.’ Taking action to solve a problem can be beneficial as it develops your skills and aids in gaining knowledge and understanding. However, it is not only helpful for individuals but organizations as a whole.
  • Action training promotes leadership and team building, as well as self-growth and problem-solving skills.

Conclusion

Action Learning is an interactive method used by companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Each participant initiates action Learning within their work context. For each step (in the Street View case study), each participant executes one action that is then documented in their way. The process becomes more immersive when team members are actively involved with other team members, demonstrating access to a new personal learning level.

Action Learning is a process of learning that will result in lifelong value to any individual or business. Action Learning is an education that embraces practicing, testing, and reaping what you have learned. Most importantly, Action Learning defines a learning style – how you approach taking on new knowledge, concepts, techniques, or skills.