Monday, 29 September 2008

Ride the Credit Crunch with Action Learning

In my experience the use of Action Learning within organisations has grown over recent years as a great way to support the development of people.

In the current environment where there is a tightening of purse strings action learning is a fantastic way to continue the development of people in your organisation in an extremely cost effective way.

I will be publishing a series of posts that will help you understand what action learning is, how it can be used, why it is so important and how it can support and be integrated with other learning activities.

Today I want to start by giving you some  background: 

What is Action Learning.....?

Action Learning was pioneered by Reginald Revans in the 1940s. Through his own observations during the  Second World War and work in the mining industry  Revans believed that managers posessed within them the latent knowledge to solve their own problems, if only they could first gain an insightful understanding of that problem and the uniqueness of their place in it. In his view academics might develop general theories and teachers might explain them, but only the individual could learn by practical experiment how to make these theories work for them.

Some of the core principals of action learning:

  • The Central Theme of Action Learning - that managers learn best with and from each other, in efforts to treat real problems in real time by regularly explaining among themselves what they are trying to do, what is stopping them from doing it and what they intend to do about it.
  • The first qualification of management is to take and implement better decisions. To identify their problems (and opportunities) more precisely, to specify more clearly their courses of action to follow these into practical effect.
  • The challenge of continuous learning - only if managers are constantly faced with the insistent obligation to improve their performance continuously (as they must in a changing world) are they likely to want to learn as part of their daily routine.
  • The learning equation (L=P+Q): The rate of learning (L) is a function of the acquisition of programmed knowledge (P) and the developing of questioning insight (Q). P is obtained from colleagues and Q is obtained from action learning. The qualities of P and Q are not related. Indeed P may actively inhibt Q.
"The Origins of Growth and Action Leanring": Revans 1982

In the next post we will explore how the elements of action learning fit together - how does it work and what is an action learning set.....

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