Action Learning

Action Learning is the opposite of a one size fits all learning programme as it is tailored to the individual’s needs. Adults learn best when they decide what they want to learn, and the learning is closely linked to issues or problems of immediate concern.  Learning in an action learning set is directly linked to change and action, and therefore business performance.

Action learning moves people, and cultures, towards using a coach-approach. Here, we’ve shared three of our real examples of Action Learning:

A senior manager in a restructure

The issue

He wanted to support his team through a re-structure, when he himself was leaving.

What we did

  • The group asked him questions that enabled him to identify what was really important to him about supporting his staff in this time of change
  • They helped him to normalise his feelings of betrayal at leaving his team behind
  • They supported him to figure out what to do next
  • In the debrief, we acknowledged the importance of recognising an individual’s feelings, even when those feelings might seem illogical from the outside

His outcomes

  • Four weeks later, he stated that the action learning helped him to see what was really going on for him
  • He had been able to run workshops to support his team members and others to state their own needs and put their best foot forward in this time of change
  • He had worked out what he must complete during his final weeks, and what could drop
  • He had identified how to make a good ending, psychologically
  • His commitment to his team’s wellbeing meant that individuals and the business could thrive.

A manager in a sales role

The issue

She wanted to build a better relationship with a client

What we did

  • The group asked questions that helped her to identify why this relationship was important
  • Following her train of thought, they then probed to get her to outline the obstacles that were preventing the relationship from flourishing
  • She continued to work out what she could try out with her client, to get over these obstacles
  • She committed to several actions
  • In the debrief, the group recognised that they wanted to give advice, but that the individual came up with some of the ideas for herself, which meant she would more likely follow through on them; and she came up with other ideas that were very relevant to her in her context, that they had not come up with – so she ended up with more ideas that fitted her situation

Her outcomes

When we next met, she told the group that the relationship felt better and her efforts had led to some additional work to the value of £24,000.  This had a cyclical effect on her improved relationship with her client.

A stuck Managing Director

The issue

She wanted to think creatively about an element of her project that she was stuck on

What we did

  • The group listened as she got clear for herself about the scope of the issue
  • One of the group encouraged her to start drawing.  This opened up an exploration that she hadn’t expected.  She quickly got some new ideas and decided on her next steps
  • In review, the group discussed the power of drawing and how they might apply it in meetings back in the workplace

Her outcomes

She took her recommendations to her steering committee and her refined picture generated even more ideas that were good for employees and good for business.  She felt more confident about herself and her contributions.  She estimated that action learning saved her 6 weeks of stuckness, a cost-saving equivalent of £14,000.


“Really worthwhile, a rich learning experience.”

“My experience with the [Action Learning] programme really helped to boost my confidence in a way that couldn’t be achieved in training.”

If the Action Learning approach appeals to you, contact us to learn more;

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